Embrace Encouragement and Accountability for the Love of Christ

Jim Denison | Denison Forum | Published: Oct 02, 2023
Embrace Encouragement and Accountability for the Love of Christ

Embrace Encouragement and Accountability for the Love of Christ


Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce caught six passes as his Chiefs defeated the New York Jets last night in a game that was closer than many expected. However, all eyes were on one particular fan in the stands.

Taylor Swift has been generating headlines for years, but now that she and Kelce are dating (or so it seems) and she is attending his games, public attention is riveted on her in a whole new way. She’s apparently not interested in him for his money; his annual salary is $12.3 million, but her US Eras Tour brought in $13 million per night from ticket sales.

Such numbers are unfathomable for most of us. Many are just glad the government averted a shutdown that could have harmed the economy further. Americans continue to be frustrated by inflation and slow economic growth and worry about rising crime and illegal immigration. As historian George H. Nash notes, we yearn for freedom, virtue, and safety. Fully two-thirds of us believe the nation is “off on the wrong track.”

But there’s a deeper story at work here.

Why we seek “a new, optimistic future”

Richard Haass, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes that “the global outlook appears bleak and is about to get bleaker.” For example, “the UN’s most important component, the Security Council, is sidelined and will remain so, given that one of its veto-holding members is waging a war that violates the UN Charter’s most fundamental principle.”

Gerard Baker, Editor at Large of the Wall Street Journal, observes that the “new moral order” built on “globalism, climate-change alarmism, and cultural self-annihilation” is “already crumbling.” British Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently warned against the “failed dogma of multiculturalism” and predicted that British culture will “disappear” without migration controls.

Closer to home, Americans blame both political parties for the current situation. In the view of the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel, voters want to be “inspired by a new, optimistic future.”

Here’s a fact you won’t find in the secular media: this “future” begins not with secular culture but with spiritual rebirth. And that cannot begin in our culture if you and I do not take two vital steps today.

Golfing advice from a bad golfer

The God who made us loves us passionately. He “waits to be gracious to you” (Isaiah 30:18) and sent his Son so we “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Here’s the problem: people judge Christ by Christians. They will not follow our faith unless we follow it. In Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America, Russell Moore writes: “We see now young evangelicals walking away from evangelicalism not because they do not believe what the church teaches, but because they believe the church itself does not believe what the church teaches.”

I would not accept golfing advice from a bad golfer or dental care from a person with bad teeth. Would you hire a financial advisor who is bankrupt or an attorney who is in jail?

Here’s the point: If we speak against the sins of our culture, we must take heed lest we commit similar sins ourselves. After describing in detail the sins of the decadent Roman culture (Romans 1:24–32), Paul asked his fellow Christians, “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:3).

For example, we should stand against homosexual sin (cf. Romans 1:26–27), but heterosexual sin is just as sinful (cf. Matthew 5:28). “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). We earn the right to warn against the failures of our day by living in a way that demonstrates the difference our faith makes in our lives.

However, my purpose today is not to exhort you simply to try harder to do better.

The myth of the self-made hero

The self-made hero is one of the enduring myths of Western culture. Indeed, God calls us to exercise “self-control in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25) and to “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:12).

However, “self-control” is a “fruit” of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Therefore, here’s the first key to the spiritual renewal our culture needs so desperately: “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Here’s the second key: we “walk in the Spirit” most effectively when we do so in accountable community.

A coal taken from the fire goes out. We are told to love our Lord and our neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39) because each empowers the other.

If we want our “manner of life” to be “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27a), we must “[stand] firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (vv. 27b). Stated differently: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25).

For the sake of our spiritual and national future, let me ask you: Who is encouraging you to “walk in the Spirit”?

Whom will you encourage today?

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Wasan Tita

Publish Date: 10/2/2023

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.

For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

The Daily Article Podcast is Here!

Click to Listen

Embrace Encouragement and Accountability for the Love of Christ