All posts by Dr. Charlie Self

Choosing a Divergent Path: Wisdom in a World Gone Mad

We are inundated with loud voices clamoring for emotional reactions. In contrast, followers of Jesus are invited to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and choose loving obedience. Let’s take time to still our hearts, listen deeply, and love wisely.

We do not live in the best or worst of times…but in the most instantaneous information moment of history. Our conflicts are not new, but much more immediate and our responses are often unreflective. We can shun vulgarity. We can choose intercession for those who disagree. And we can recognize that power itself is an addiction affecting every part of the political spectrum. 

Forgiveness often sparks revival in persons and communities. Without pretending about our real pain or excusing transgression, what if we let go of the rap sheet that we keep against ourselves and others and truly forgive? And when we bless those who frustrate us most, we are liberated, and a new future opens to us.

An antidote for our epidemic and anger: In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, we can meet every insult with blessing, every denial of truth with love and truth, arrogance with humility, and intolerance with civil discourse. And let’s respond to emotionalism and incipient Orwellian controls with careful thought and affirmation of liberty rooted in virtue. Systemic issues of class, gender, and race must be exposed…and overcome with love, relationships, and wisdom. Protest is one step…and practical, sacrificial action for others moves our vision of shalom forward. This is more than being nice and it is not passive. Living in the opposite spirit of our age of insults and vulgarity is a courageous spiritual posture. 

Navigating Unfairness in Life and Work

A sense of justice is hard-wired into the human psyche. Without training, a three-year-old will say, “Unfair!” We are rightly outraged at abuse, prejudice, and violence. But what about the more daily, subtle ways unfairness comes into our lives?

A colleague and I sat down with a leader and shared some of our creative thinking for a new product. We were met with condescension and kindness and the meeting ended well. A year later, we discovered that our ideas had been rebranded, and met with public favor!

Our first responses were incredulity, anger, and resignation. It was maddening to see another get credit and our efforts be ignored. We both thought, “Self-denial is hard when he advances, and we are ignored.”

It is frustrating when others are celebrated, and we feel unheard and unseen. Our first reactions are not yet sins. The next moments determine whether we wallow in self-pity or cultivate godly character. When unfairness happens, our hidden religiosity comes to the surface.

Three insights help us endure these moments. First, remembering God’s mercy in our lives helps us extend grace when life is unfair (Rom. 12:9-21). Second, we ultimately work for One Master, who will reward more lavishly that human leaders (Col. 3:17-25). Finally, God uses these moments for our transformation (Rom. 8:28-39).

Life will be unfair. But we can turn our circumstances into character development and wisdom. We do not celebrate victimhood; however, we can refuse to wallow in commiseration and chose the high road of forgiveness.

People of Faith in a Confused World

Friends, whether you are a devout Christian or a skeptic, inoculated to religious language or open to supernatural experiences, the importance of understanding faith is vital as we navigate our lives in a hostile and indifference world.

Four facets of faith are vital for our walk with the Lord and effective service and witness in our world where everything seems up for grabs:

  • We are people of “the faith” – the Event of Jesus Christ: his incarnation, sinless life, atoning crucifixion, burial, glorious bodily resurrection, ascension to the right hand of the Father, and Return in glory (I Corinthians 15; Romans 1:2-4, 16-17; I Timothy 3:16; Jude 3). Unlike most religious systems, our Christian life is built on God’s own activity in history, with the Cross and Resurrection as the defining events and definitive foundation. We must defend this truth amidst all the skepticism, historic revisionism, and basic doubt about the truthfulness of anything!
  • We are people with “saving faith.” We can be assured by the Holy Spirit that we are God’s children with a secure eternity (Romans 8)! How completely different this is from all other religions, with their emphasis on human effort. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2).
  • We are people with “growing faith.” This faith can move mountains when we trust God (NOT trusting our faith level!). Faith grows as we obey the Lord – and his first and foundational command is love (Galatians 5:6).
  • And, we are people open to the manifestation gift of extraordinary faith (I Corinthians 12). This is often linked with other gifts and is part of God’s sovereign activity as we seek to edify the Body and evangelize the world.

As we navigate the turbulent waters of a world in need, may the Lord strengthen all facets of faith, from solid apologetics concerning the Bible and truth, to deep assurance, to compelling obedience, and openness to the miraculous.