After speaking to Stephan Tchividjian he gives us this insight: Lately I have been embarrassed by some Christians. That bothers me because it’s like saying, “I am embarrassed by my husband, my wife or my kids” and that is never a good sign. I must also be cautious of feeling embarrassment in the first place. The concept of embarrassment is a loaded one, and it reeks of an unhealthy self-love and early signs of narcissism. Therefore, it has caused me to ask myself some questions, mostly around a simple, “Why?”
Stephan Tchividjian continues to say:
I look at our culture and I continue to see signs of deterioration. I see culture wars that are no longer civil conversations but venomous attacks, often among friends and family. I see a serious decline in basic morals, a cynicism around leadership, a level of intolerance towards one another, a disregard of integrity, a simplistic rush to judgement, a lot of yelling, a lot of anger and very little listening (I think the Bible says something about that), broken and discarded relationships, a thirst for escapism, a shallow understanding of the Bible, a feel good faith and a growing sense of discontent and entitlement. I can imagine that in no other time in history has there been more access to God’s word, freedom to openly worship and attend a local church, access to Christian education, Christian-based conferences, music, concerts, movies, podcasts, books etc. The amount of content and community is unprecedented, but then why is everything so weird? Is it a media conspiracy to undermine the Christian faith? Perhaps it’s the Democrats? Is it the Republicans? Perhaps its Netflix filling our homes with bad stuff? Is it because of porn, preservatives in our food, an alien conspiracy or all three? Seriously, I am confused. I know we live in a broken world, and I am under no illusion that everything is supposed to be easy. Church history demonstrates this, God says we will suffer. However, I am under the impression that Christians are supposed to have a good influence on culture and sometimes we are the worst examples of all. Are we failing? If so, how have we failed, better yet, how have I failed?
A day in the life of Stephan Tchividjian
I start my day with a light breakfast and some much-needed coffee. My time in the Bible is daily, sometimes profound and refreshing and sometimes, frankly, confusing and distracted…. but it still happens. My day is sometimes crazy busy, sometimes boring, sometimes lighthearted, sometimes very discouraging, sometimes filled with emotions, sometimes regretful and from time to time celebratory. As my day begins to come to an end I will find myself asking questions such as, how did I serve God today?” Did I sin too much? Did I listen to all the right stuff, did I look at anything wrong, did I gossip, lust, covet, murder, steal…ok, if I didn’t, I feel good…If did, I feel bad. My day sounds like your day, right?
Oh my, what a yoyo Christian life, mostly centered around me judging myself and those around me as to how I/we did living as a Christian today. Wrong perspective and wrong approach. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good and critically important to reflect. It’s how we grow. However, I must be careful to not allow myself to become judge and jury…that’s God’s role. Perhaps my understanding of being a Christian has been tainted. Remember, the term Christian came as a result of people observing the behavior of those around them and saying that it resembled that of Jesus… that’s how we got that name in the first place… we acted like Jesus. I must simply ask myself that perhaps what I am really embarrassed at is me, myself and I.
Authentic relationships with Stephan Tchividjian
Too many times I have taken my faith, customized it to my opinions, perspectives and wants all the while sacrificing the very essence of what it means to be a Christian. I once heard someone ask the question, “a person is less interested in knowing when you became a Christian and much more interested in knowing why you still are one.” How dynamic and authentic is this relationship with Jesus that I have? My faith is not a one-off moment in time, a program or project, a source of employment, a political strategy or a simple formula for happiness and the like. My faith is a path towards weakness and surrender. My faith is daily and often mundane and non-eventful. My faith is not about me. I think what I am most embarrassed about is how I meddle in God’s story, and I create my own false story, one based on my efforts and belittling His. Peter was guilty of that, the disciples were, the religious leaders were, frankly, it’s a common theme throughout the history of mankind. I have the ability to twist and pervert God’s story and then have the audacity to get upset at Him when it doesn’t work out the way I had hoped. They call it stinking thinking. God’s story can only be told by Him and He tells it through us. I am not the author, He is. Therefore, perhaps the failure that I sense of some Christians including myself having little or the wrong impact on culture is that the form of Christianity that is on display is not actually Jesus’…and therefore it doesn’t have the power to impact culture.
I need to start by reflecting on my proximity to Jesus as I follow Him, because the closer I am the more I understand His story, the more I surrender to His guidance and the more my life will reflect His. I know I love Jesus; I am a lover of the local church; I don’t believe in an isolated Christian. I believe that a growing Christian needs to be in a healthy community where the elements of conviction, encouragement and service exist. I believe a Christian ought to be contagious. I am not in favor of legalism, but I am also not in favor of throwing caution to the wind. I am a recipient of God’s Grace but it’s not a license to disobey. I deeply desire humility, but it seems so fleeting. I think a Christian must be quick to laugh but also quick to cry. I fight every day to remove myself from the center of my own universe. I believe in a quick surrender. I believe in the power of steadfastness. I am not overly concerned about my legacy because Jesus will take care of that. I am confident but certainly vulnerable to fear and failure, and I could go on. I believe that God’s grace and power is essential to living an authentic life as a follower of Jesus. Does my life sounds like yours? Perhaps. Therefore, I desire to yield to His call, draw close to Jesus and His story will be reflected in my life and that story will impact everything and that is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.
Here are all of Stephan Tchividjian Articles
Recommended Stephan Tchividjian Works:
Remembering “Daddy Bill” – An Interview with Stephan Tchividjian on Billy Graham