Andy Stanley - From Politics and Culture to The Church
Andy Stanley: We're super excited to have Dr. Loritts with us today. Up until recently, he was the pastor at Fellowship Church, just down the road, over in Roswell. He was there 15 years. His wife, Karen, he's got four kids, 11 grandkids. He's authored nine books. He's traveled all over the world. He's spoken all over the world. He took part in two, well, three Super Bowls somehow, spoke at three Super Bowls. He spoken at the Pentagon. He serves on the Chick-fil-A board. I could go on, and on, and on, but the reason he's here is because of the investment he's made in my life. And every time I'm around Crawford, I find myself taking notes. I told you the other day, we're having dinner with some people, and he started talking at dinner table, "Somebody's home". And I pulled out my phone and Sandra gave me that look like, "Why are you getting your phone out"? I'm like, "I'm taking notes". Anyway. So, would you please, give a warm North Point welcome and a multi-campus site, a multi-campus welcome to my friend, Dr. Crawford Loritts. Crawford. Oh, I've been looking forward to this. And just full disclosure, I did send Crawford the list of topics we're going to talk about ahead of time so there's no gotcha. So, if there's an, "Oo, I can't believe you asked that". He said there's nothing off limits. So, super excited.
Dr. Crawford Loritts: But things can change, right?
Andy Stanley: Things can change, yes. Yes, this is for you. So, just however much you want, time you wanna talk about this. You became a Christian at about 14. Got called to the ministry at 16 in New Jersey.
Dr. Crawford Loritts: Yeah, I was born and raised in Northern New Jersey, Metropolitan, New York area. Come from a wonderful Christian family. But at 13 and a half, almost 14, I trusted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Yeah, just kinda grew up there, and part of an incredible church. It was a small church, bi-vocational pastor, but boy, did he ever love young people. And so, at age 16, I sensed the call to the ministry. I preached my first message.
Andy Stanley: At 16?
Dr. Crawford Loritts: At 16. I thought I had 40 minutes of material, I was done like seven and a half minutes, but it was... My mother liked it.
Andy Stanley: Yeah. That's amazing. So, from then, another kind of cool thing, you actually helped co-found a church with Tony Evans.
Dr. Crawford Loritts: Yes.
Andy Stanley: For those of you who don't know, Tony Evans is the father of Priscilla Shirer. Some of you...
Dr. Crawford Loritts: Yeah. Yeah.
Andy Stanley: ...that might be more the connection. I thought that would get a laugh. It didn't. Anyway. So, yes. So, Oak Cliff Bible Church?
Dr. Crawford Loritts: Yeah. In 1976, Karen and I moved from the Philadelphia area to Dallas, and Tony and I had met each other, connected, and just shared a common vision to see a church planted there in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. And so, we moved there in '76 and started Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and, you know, just had a vision. It wasn't all that strategic. We just love people. Started sharing Jesus with people. And the next thing we know, folks actually began to show up at church.
Andy Stanley: Well, the two y'all together would have been amazing. Tony actually was still teaching seminary when I was in seminary.
Dr. Crawford Loritts: Wow!
Andy Stanley: Yeah. He taught evangelism. My favorite Tony Evan's quote from that era, he would say, and I've used this all the time. I might have stolen it. Sometimes, I give people credit, sometimes, not. Anyway. He said, in class one day. He said, "Jesus did not come to take sides, He came to take over".
Dr. Crawford Loritts: Yeah. I've heard him say that a couple times.
Andy Stanley: Okay. So then, you've traveled all over the world. I mean, part of the Promise Keepers Movement, it goes on, and on, and on. And then, really for the first time, you were called to be the Senior Pastor of a church, and you came to Roswell, Georgia.
Dr. Crawford Loritts: Right. Well, there was, in '78, we got recruited for staff, with Campus Crusade for Christ, now called "Cru". And I served on staff for 27 wonderful years with them. And in 2005, I was a bit of an anomaly on staff with Campus Crusade, 'cause I've always been a preacher. And I've always loved the church. But about two years, three years before we came to Fellowship, I just got this sense that God wanted me to shepherd, and preach, and teach in such a way to see people's lives transform and grow. So, long story short, 2005, we came to Fellowship and spent 15 wonderful years there.
Andy Stanley: Wow. And when I heard that you, they got you, I thought, "Good for them. Wow". And then I thought, "Oh, this is the first time he's pastored a church".
Dr. Crawford Loritts: Yeah.
Andy Stanley: Anyway.
Dr. Crawford Loritts: And then you said, "Pray for Crawford".
Andy Stanley: "Pray for Crawford", yeah. So then, I heard you share this, this morning, so pretty fresh. You said then... The interesting thing is, so I found out Crawford, his last Sunday at Fellowship was on Easter Sunday.
— Yeah. So, just a little, you know, preacher thing here, generally, I mean, kind of kidding, the last Sunday that a pastors at a church after he's been there a long time, the joke is, "Now, you can say all that stuff that you haven't been able to say," because you're leaving, right? And so, I called it Crawford. I said, "I know why you picked Easter, 'cause that'll keep you from doing that. You're not going to air all that stuff on Easter Sunday".
— Nah. The spotlight is on Jesus that day.
— No matter what.
— Yeah, that's it. Every Sunday, but particularly, Easter.
— And then you said that, now that you've quote, retired, people walk up to you and they're...
— Oh, yeah. They walk up to me. This is amazing. So, they go, the brow gets furrowed and they say, "Crawford, how are you doing"? And I say, "I'm doing great. I don't have to sit in meetings anymore".
— Deal with staff.
— Deal with staff, change my email address, it's wonderful.
— Yeah. It's all somebody else's problem.
— Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
— Okay. So, as I've told them kind of, teasing out what we're going to do today. I just wrote down a lot of things I've heard you say in conversations on the phone, dinner, lunch, so we're just going to jump in. SO, here's one of my favorite, and I told Crawford, I said, "If you want to just spend 25 minutes talking about this, we can". And so, about 10 or 12 years ago, I shifted my language in my preaching away from just, believing in Jesus and becoming a Christian to following Jesus. I was very intentional because of what was going on in culture. People deconstructing their faith. People created such an internalized faith. It's like, "Oh, I'm a Christian". And so, I started using the term, "follow". We're going to be followers Jesus. We even changed our mission statement to inspire people to follow Jesus. It's not just about believing anymore. So along those lines, I heard you say the other night, month and a half ago or so, at dinner, you said, "Christianity has become a reference point rather than the context for our lives. So that for many Christians, that Christianity is just a reference point, as opposed to the context for their entire lives". Would you just talk about that for a few minutes? Because I feel like you're getting right to the heart of what I've been trying to learn how to communicate effective.
— Yeah. I think your journey really defines what I mean by that. When you say, you made the shift from telling people to believe in Jesus to really follow Jesus, and that's the essence of that. We, unfortunately, we don't do tensions well. Andy, we don't do tensions well. We are terribly binary or either/or, and the dastardly tendency here in the Western world is hyper individualism, and we think everything focuses on us, including our Christianity. So, we think our Christianity is just about making me a better version of myself. Well, that's not the point of biblical Christianity. The point of biblical Christianity is that, no, Jesus is not an additive to your life. He doesn't exist to help you, just to manage your money better, or to make better decisions about your family, or these kinds of things. Although, those things are very important. He exists to transform your life and he just can't be a point of reference, meaning you skirt back to Him when you're between a rock and a hard place, and life is not working out for you. So, let me get on back to Jesus and see what He has to say. And then I'll just keep on doing my thing. No, he's to be the context of your life. He is your life. Just like we were talking a few moments ago. I mean, you know, your marriage is not just a point of reference.
— No, that wouldn't work.
— I would not be married for long if it was...
— No, none of us would be.
— Because the point of references is, "Oh, I'm married. I got a ring. I've got a certificate. But, no, here's my real life over here". No, that wouldn't work.
— Well, Jesus is to be our life. And this is part of the reason why we're in such a mess we're in right now. And there's so much confliction and confusion within the church now is because we have not decided or come to that... That's a general statement. Many of us have not come to that crisis moment in our lives. And it is a crisis moment in our lives when we say, "Okay. I'm all in". "I'm all in". "My life is about Jesus". And we stop the tug-of-war with Him, and we say, "No, I have determined to lead with the Lordship of Christ at home, in my job. I mean, wherever I might be. He's going to be the context of my life". And that's what the Apostle Paul meant in Galatians 2:20 when he says, "I'm crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet, not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life that I now live in flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God". To be Christian means that my life, during my moment in history, is the autobiography of Jesus.
— And that's what I mean by making that decision for Him to be the context, yep.
— And this is, there may not be a good answer, short answer to this questions. And, you said it earlier, we don't like tensions, we don't like tensions. So it's kind of, it's an either/or thing. And yet, isn't what you just said, isn't that the tension for many Americans, that, "I believe in God," "I even believe in Jesus," "I have respect for the Bible," but the tension isn't around so much, "Do I believe it"? as much as "Do I surrender to it"?
— Yeah, exactly. Well said. You know, we know what the answer is.
— Jesus. We're in church.
— Jesus. It's a matter of control. It's the issue of control. Am I going to relinquish the control of my life to Him? And it's the whole idea... You know, faith is a verb, even when it's a noun. That to say that you believe means that I relinquish the control of my life to Him. I don't just add Him and pull Him out to leverage what He can give me, I relinquish the control of my life. And that's the big problem we're facing right now. And you can spread this out in terms of, you know, how politics has ambushed us these days, and this kind of thing, because we want to use Jesus, a la carte Him, and then bring Him over into these things that are really, the big issues in our lives.
— Wow. And so, we'll a la carte Jesus and leverage that over here, and sprinkle him...
— That is a great sermon series, a la carte Jesus. Somebody needs to write that down. That's really... You've not done that yet, right?
— No, I haven't. I do take royalties, though.
— Yeah, yeah, yeah.
— No, but, this is exactly... This is like I said, this is the guy I learned from. So, this is, maybe, feel awkward for you, but it doesn't feel awkward to me. So, let's just imagine, I can't imagine in our church, that their would be people who are doing that. I mean, most churches, they have those people. I don't...
— No, we never had them.
— He never had them either. So, what do you say, so just say, so here's, you know, the successful, educated, you know, busy, what do you say to that group that the, "Oh, yeah. Again, Jesus, faith is a reference point. Heck, I'm in church" or "Heck, I'm watching church"? Was their a crisis point for you? I mean, at 16, you didn't think in these terms.
— No. Mm-mm. Mm-mm.
— What do you say to folks that are wrestling with that? Or who aren't even wrestling with it because it's just, never occurred to them, because religion is always been in this box and my life's in this box, what's the challenge?
— Well, the challenge is, and I think God will do this for people, I think that God will send all of us a wake-up call where you're going to get yourself in a situation where you can't fix this. You can't fix it. And so, we often turn to God when our foundations are shaking only to discover it's God who's shaking them. And He will force it. He will force it.
— My dad used to call that, "brokenness".
— Yes. Yes, and that's exactly right. And by the way, Andy, I think what breaks my heart right now, these last two years, is that God has been shouting at us and telling us, "You cannot fix this. You can't fix this. Stop being so stubborn, and realize that you're over your head. And when you're over your head and you fall on your knees, that's when the solutions will come".
— But, our arrogance has gotten entrenched and we sanctified that arrogance, and sanctify that pride in our posturing, in our political statements, and even allowing grievances to come into our churches, and Jesus has gotten lost in all of that. And the idolatry has begun to shape our lives. And so, I think it's stopping and saying, "Okay, don't make assumptions about God," stopping and say, "what is God saying in all of this"?
— So, one of the things that that conversation over dinner morphed into is this whole idea of, "What is the church's role in that"? Because there's an individual side of you saying, "Hey, I want to, as an individual, I want to follow Jesus". But in terms of the church, taking that posture, you said that, this is a quote from you, "The church must represent," this is so powerful to me, "the church, the local church, and then local churches, the church must represent the destination at which culture needs to arrive".
— What do you mean by that?
— Well, this gets into the whole, and this gets a little heavy here, but this gets into the whole theology of the church. What do we represent in the world? What is God's intention for us? Not what we think we should be, but what is God's intention for the church? Why did he leave us here? And the church, the visible representation of God and the world is to be a portrait of the desired destination at which the culture should arrive.
— Okay, you gotta unpack that.
— And what I mean by that, not what I mean by that, what I think the scriptures mean by that is that He's given us, in human history, a taste, a vision. You said it earlier, about the kingdom, He's given us a taste and a vision of what it really means to live with kingdom values. What it really means to be able to love supernaturally. What it really means to embrace people that are different than we are. And it's that little foretaste of what Heaven is all about. And I think what's breaking the heart of God over these last couple of years, Andy, is that we have lost that lofty vision. This is who, it's not legalism, but this is who we are. And that great portrait in Ephesians chapter two of a redeemed and reconciled people, we don't sing off of the sheet of music of the Democrats, or the Republicans, or the Independents, or whoever's in office, that vision is too small. That vision is too small. We set the moral direction of the culture. And so, in that sense, we're the portrait of a desired destination, and that's what leadership is all about.
— Leadership is always prophetic. If you want somebody to believe than you have to hemorrhage. And if you want the culture to be right, it doesn't begin with criticizing all that's wrong with the culture, it begins by the body of Christ, taking a look at ourselves, and saying, "Where have we been co-opted"? "Where has that vision been eroded"? You know, "What are we representing"? And Philippians chapter two, the Apostle Paul says, you know, "You shine as lights". "You shine as lights".
— Yeah, stars in the sky, yeah.
— That's right. But, the versus before that, not to get preachy here, but versus before...
— We're in church.
— Yeah, there ya go.
— I'll go sit down in the front row if you want to preach, you know.
— When we personalize text of scripture that was meant not to be taken personally, but corporately.
— Right, it's corporately. That we do that all the time.
— All the time.
— That's how we read the text, like, "Show me. Show me. Show me".
— Yeah, exactly. But, actually, in Philippians 2, we get that verse that says, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling". He's actually speaking in terms of the church. And He says, "Demonstrate your salvation, your deliverance with fear and trembling". And then the prepositional phrase, the next line, it says, "For it is God, who's at work in you"...
— Corporately. Don't you know who's working in your midst? Don't you know who you are? Why are you allowing the culture to bring definition to your Christianity? And your Christianity ought to be bringing definition to where the culture needs to be.
— And that reminds me another Tony Evans quote from that same class, 'cause I just had one class. He said that, "We're to be a commercial announcement of God's kingdom". Isn't that great? That we're to be like the commercial. We're to be the subset or the microcosm of, here's what it looks like when God physically reigns...
— Yeah, absolutely.
— ...reigns on earth. One of the things that you and I have talked about, and we've talked with some other pastors about, this is just, it connects how difficult it is right now for pastors and churches not to give in to being politicized, because again, political parties, and we all lean one way or the other. That's not a problem. Of course, they want to leverage everything they can in culture to stay in power.
— And so, they come after the church quite often.
— Talk a little bit about, and this is one thing I'm so grateful, I'm so grateful for our churches and the people in our churches, who have encouraged me, in fact, even this week, there was a couple who came in to talk about something else, and as they were leaving, the gentleman said, "Hey, Andy. Before I go, I just want to say, thank you for not bringing politics into the church". And what he meant is, and you can talk about this, is there are issues... When an issue intersects with scripture, or when the issue intersects with Jesus said, I mean, game on, right?
— Game on. That's right.
— In terms of, just politicizing the church, and it just so deteriorates our witness in... Either way you go, it deteriorates our posture or our ability to do, what you just talked about. So, talk about that a little bit. Because there's a temptation to go one way or the other, right?
— Well, let me back up and say, we oughta to be involved. We oughta be involved...
— Of course.
— ...politically, and in what we believe, and if it lines up, to be good citizens, all of that. I have no problem with that. However, what we need to understand is the power of idolatry. And you have to understand, don't give more sovereignty to structure and systems than God wanted there to be. And when the church...
— Can you repeat that? That's an amazing statement.
— Don't give more sovereignty to structures and systems than God intended. He's sovereign, not them. And He make work through them, and he does, but like a friend of mine says, and I hope this isn't offensive, but I need to say this strongly, a friend of mine says, "When the church gets in bed with politics, it's the church that gets pregnant, and the offspring doesn't look like our Father".
— I know who said that. That's an amazing quote, yeah.
— And I think...
— Just say it one more time. That's just an amazing quote, isn't it?
— No, you're the pastor, you can say it again.
— That, yeah, go ahead.
— And so, I think, to me, as I've wrestled with this, and I think that there are two things that church leaders need hold on to during this time of confusion and what... You don't, one of the things I've learned the hard way, is that you never manage your way out of a crisis.
— You lead it.
— You lead your way out of a crisis. And clarity is your friend. With all the confusion that's going on right now, we need to be abundantly clear about who we are and what the gospel is. We don't carry the water of the culture, we don't carry the water of Democrats, or Republicans, or Independents, or Libertarians or whatever, we don't carry that water. One thing is for sure, in the house of the living God, we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And neither is there salvation in any other, there's no deliverance in any other politics or whatever, there's no deliverance, even in the U.S. Constitution, as much as I embraced that document, the deliverance comes from a dead, buried, resurrected, ascended Savior. And we need a Savior, we don't need a system. And that's where the clarity needs to be. And I think, right now is a time for there to be great, clear leadership in our churches. A great, clear leadership about who we are. And again, I'm not knocking, I vote for who I feel passionate about issues, and this kind, I feel passionate about those things. But take the barnacles off the cross. Take the barnacles off the cross, and don't make the church a repository of grievances, but a celebration of the solution.
— So, I should have asked you permission, but it's in our notes, so... So we had lunch...
— This could be dangerous.
— ...the other day and I feel like, we can handle this, okay? So, I'll clean up when you're gone. You talked about a sermon, I think, you preached in 2000...
— No, your not going to go there.
— ...'18, '19, it was before the pandemic, and you didn't get carried away, you were just bing clear. And you made a statement that when you told me what you said, I was like, "Oo, I think I might have made that a question, not a statement". But, can you talk about that because I think that goes to the heart of this, and it will make us all appropriately uncomfortable, I think.
— Andy, you are really, quite the man here.
— So, well you said it, not me, so I was going to gauge the response, and then, I can get up next time and say, "Yeah".
— Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I must admit...
— Put it in context, yeah.
— My email got blown up over this statement. Well, let me just say this, I will die, I'm patriotic, I will die for the values of this country. Despite all the issues with slavery and other stuff we've been through, this is still the greatest country in the world. I will die for it's freedoms, and I will die for this country. Okay. But, I want you to hear me on this. What I said to our people is this, "We need very, very, very, very careful that patriotism does not morph into idolatrous nationalism. And that we need to understand, we need to understand," and this is the statement that got me into trouble, but I stand by it, "The White House is not Heaven, and the President is not God, and God does not stand up when our national anthem is played".
— So, I said, "Whoa, whoa, maybe you should've said, 'Do you think God stands for our national anthem?' And kind of let you congregation process it". But you didn't, you just told 'em.
— Yeah, and so I... Let me, you know, God blesses...
— Did a bigger hole? Go ahead, yeah.
— Yeah, well, I don't have a church anymore anyway. Let me just say this, I mean, God has blessed this Nation because of God acknowledgment in our history. And He has blessed us. And He will continue to bless us when we acknowledge Him, so I was not discrediting, at all, patriotism, and I stand up when the national anthem is played. I put my hand on my heart. I pledge allegiance to the United States of America, and I would give my life for. But the sovereign God of the universe bows to no one. He bows to no one. And it makes me nervous when I hear Christians making the Constitution the 67th book of the Bible. Or making any structure...
— And that's what you meant by structures, ...a few minutes ago?
— Yes. Yes. And that we have to be very, very careful, and this is where clarity needs to be given. You know, so that's how I got into trouble, and I probably will get into trouble. My email address is andy.stanley...
— Yeah. Yeah.
— So, here's another quote, and you just said it, you said, "Pastors are pressured from both sides to take political stands that masquerade as standing for Jesus".
— Whoo! "Church has become an repository for grievances. The issues don't matter, just self-righteous grievances". That whole masquerading I mean, as standing for Jesus, the pastors get this from both sides, "Take a stand. Take a stand. Aren't you a Christian? Take a stand". And it does. I love the word, it's masquerading as standing for Jesus when, in fact, it's standing for something else.
— That's exactly right. And this is where you have to have a high view of truth. You have to have a high view of scripture, and you gotta be careful. Everybody... To be a pastor right now is a dangerous position. There's a lot of pressure around us because everybody's telling us what banner we ought to be flying. Everybody's telling us what we ought to believe. Everybody's telling us what we ought to be saying. Everybody has an agenda for us. And, but, you know, that's where Timothy was in the book of second Timothy and Paul had to tell Timothy, he reached down almost grabbing him by the lapels, and said, "Oh, wait, wait. Time buddy. Time. Time. Time. You are steward of God's truth, and your not the mouth piece for the latest emphasis that's taking place". Either on the political left or the political right, you have to make sure that you are speaking truth. And just because someone has a strong opinion does not mean it's a mandate from Heaven for me to speak that. And I think sometimes we get intimidated by that.
— And by the way, you know, leadership does not always mean, there's a cliche that, you know, if you're leading, the proof of your leadership is followership. Well, not necessarily. Not necessarily. Leadership in the scriptures, particularly when it comes to the church, is a prophetic picture, and prophets were not always engaged. And so, I think this is a season that we're stepping in right now. I gotta say this the right way. We all need to be listening, and humble, and responsive, and God speaks through people. And, you know, there's a season that we're in right now, where it's going to require clarity and courage. Courage, because a lot of people won't like us. They're going to take a stage exit. They've made the assumption that, you know, "Because you're not speaking enough about this issue that I feel is a heavy issue and hot issue for me, I'm going to take my Bible and go elsewhere, and you are anathema". Well, you're going to have to be willing to say, "Okay, the choice is for me to be faithful to this or to compromise my convictions, what I believe God's telling me, to appease you".
— Now, while we're on that, because there's a personal application to this for Christians, because all of us, I didn't mean to spend so much time on the political thing, but because when a Republican, let's just say, when a Republican feels different about an issue than their party does, and they decide to speak out at Thanksgiving or Christmas, what a foolish thing to do, or the other way, and a Democrat, right? That's same responsibility as an individual Christian, it's not like, "Hey, well, my pastor has got that covered". You know what? I've always been a Republican. I've always been a Democrat, but uh-oh, uh-oh, look what I found. And to break with the party, because we've elevated our Heavenly Father, it's personal application as well.
— Absolutely. Absolutely.
— And that's difficult to do.
— Well, it gets back to the context and point of reference conversation, okay?
— There ya go. Exactly. If Christianity as a point of reference, then my politics are in a different realm.
— You can a la carte Christianity. I mean, you just, you bring it out when it's convenient. But you never ceased to be Christian.
— My Christianity takes precedent over every affiliation I have. And when my party is an issue, and my party that collides with a clear statement in scripture, guess what I'm going to side with?
— We don't have to guess. You...
— You don't have to guess.
— It's clear. And that's were the courage comes in.
— Yep. And that's true, individual and
— And corporate level.
— ...and corporately on all of that.
— Respond to this statement, switching gears, we've got just a few minutes left. This is somebody else but I love this quote. "We now see young evangelicals walking away, 20s, 30-year-olds, walking away from the church. Not because they don't believe what the church teaches, but they believe the church itself doesn't believe what the church teaches. The presenting issue is not scientism or hedonism, but disillusionment and cynicism". So, when you think about the next generation, whether it's high school students, college students, those in their 20s, who were looking at the current state of the church, with everything you've just said in mind, we've allowed ourselves to be divided over issues that are sub issues. You know, there's the kingdom of God, but we're down here arguing about all this stuff. What do you say to that generation? The generation that's like, "You know what? I kind of still believe all the right staff, but the church, I, you know, I don't know".
— I'm a little conflicted about that because I think on one hand, I say to that generation, on one end, I'd say to them, "You know, be very careful of projecting yourself as some type of morally perfect standard that the church needs to measure up to".
— That happens all the time. We all do that.
— Yeah, we all do that.
— But, when the younger we are, the more idealistic we are, and we fell like that we super vision.
— That's right. That's right. So, I would balance that by saying that. Now, the other side of that is that, you know, I think we need, this gets back to, we need to look at the condition of our own hearts. You know? We shouldn't be giving the devil a stick to hit us upside the head with in terms of our inconsistencies. The real issue is not that we fail as a church, we're imperfect, but the real issue our lack of transparency, our lack of honesty about our struggles. And we come across as being disingenuous. And in this, legalism is so insidious. It wears many disguises. And so, we need to be careful and make sure that we're being real and transparent.
— Our generation.
— Our generation, real and transparent, you know. I come from a generation which, and I've confessed this to our children, I think when they were younger, you know, because of the latent legalism in my background and this kind of thing, you don't want them to screw up, you don't want them to mess up, so you tend to project something, you don't mean to do this, but you project something that ain't true about you. And so, I think that there's a need for a heart connection, and honesty, and a transparency. No, I'm not saying that you endorse sin, but you talk about the Savior meeting all of you in your journey. And that's what this, that's where the pushback is coming from. Now, I would also say to the younger generation, you know, everybody's talking, "Well, we're broken, and this". Stop celebrating the fact that you're stuck.
— Yeah. Stop celebrating the fact that you're stuck. That, yes, there is victory in Christ, and yes, we can overcome these things, and yes, he will do these things for you. So you can be, you know, you can be keeping it real too much.
— Yeah. Yeah.
— You know what I am saying?
— No, yeah. Right. So, one of the things that we talk about, from time to time here, is I asked the question, "What breaks your heart"? You know, because when you answer the question, what breaks your heart, sometimes, you know, you can change your career over answering that question, or you give money, or you rethink your value system. We were talking one time and you made the statement, "The thing that makes me pound the table and weep". I'm like, that's way better than what breaks your heart. So, right now in this, you know, in this current season, as you know, you do, are playing, and have more opportunity to play the role of the prophet for the church in general, a statesman, what at this point makes you, or maybe one of the things that, right now, makes you kind of pound the table and weep? That breaks your heart over, whether it's the church, culture, whatever it might be? What's that's burden?
— Well, I think there's several things. One, outside of the church, is what makes me pound the table and weep, is, what a lost world sees about us? That's what's missing. And I think, sometimes, Christians have forgotten the audience. We're beating up on believers. We're blaming a blind man for stepping on our foot. And what breaks my heart is that, you know, our self-righteous mess is causing a stumbling block, and lost people are going to stay lost, Andy. They are going to stay lost. And there needs to be a revival of humility and brokenness among us, because our self-righteous posturing is actually serving as a barrier to getting people to Jesus. That breaks my heart. That breaks my heart. And it's almost like we'd rather be right than to humble ourselves and be the gateway to getting people to Jesus.
— That breaks my heart.
— Final thoughts. We've got about four minutes. Oh, and by the way, let me explain something real quick to our congregation. This is a Bible. This is what they look like. They haven't seen one in here in so long. I just wanted to make sure everybody knew what this was. Okay?
— Oh, Andy.
— Yeah. Telling on myself. Okay. Yeah.
— This past weekend, I was thinking about this conversation, my heart and mind with the Ephesians chapter two, and there is an astonishing statement that Paul makes. This is in the context of him talking about the fact that the wall has been broken down between Jews and Gentiles. And then, he comes to the climax of this in verse 19, he says, "So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God". Listen to this language. "Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself, being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure being joined together grows into a holy temple in the Lord". Now, here's this line, "In Him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God". That convicts me. God lives here.
— In the corporate, not in just the individual.
— In the corporate, God lives at North Point. God lives among believers. So it's not my reputation, it's the honor and glory of God. And does my Christianity tell the truth about God?
— So, if you would, I'm going to ask you to close in prayer in just a minute. So, with that in mind, what is your charge to us? And you don't have to be polite and you don't have to be sensitive. You're, you know, you've been given this unique role, and so, what does that mean for us? Because we're all processing this differently. Some of us are hung up on something you said a few minutes ago. Others are like, "I need to start listening to him". You know, lots of stuffs running through our mind, but to us, corporately, what's the charge?
— I would say...
— What does it look like? What do we need to?
— Yeah, I would say simply this, I think the charge to all of us is, and I'd say individually, is the answer this question that we've probably heard a ton of times before, who really is the Lord of my life? Who is most important in my life? And to answer that question, not just intellectually, but viscerally, who really is in charge of me? And if there's any other answer, in all honesty, than Jesus, then I think we need to slip to our knees and ask God to help us and forgive us. Life is too short, and my life needs to align with the Lordship of Christ.
— Because it will never happen, corporately, for us. And we will never maximize God's will for us in our communities until it happens individually.
— That's right.
— And full circle, it happens individually for the sake of the corporate church. It doesn't happen individually, so I'll just be a better person, right? So my internalized Christianity has to be actualized in my personal life.
— And then, I have to surrender my rough edges and my personal preferences so that something happens corporately, that goes way beyond any individual.
— That's right. And you can't demonstrate corporate unity without the word sacrifice.
— Exactly. I have to give something up. When I walk in and I see some of our amazing volunteers, and their extraordinary shirts, parking lots, I'm reminded of this because for anybody who volunteers in any local church, they've given up something, individually in order to do something extraordinary, corporately. And that's the model, and that's the rub, and that's the part that doesn't serve me well as long as I'm an American first and a Christian second.
— That's right. It's a giving up of your rights. It's a giving up of your rights so that we can declare who's ultimately right, and that's Jesus.
— Would you pray for us?
Father, thank you for your love and mercy. And thank you that you've been so good to us. Thank you for your patience with us. And God we ask of you in the name of your Son, that you will help us as we stumbled toward obedience, that Lord Jesus, you will use our lives to be salt and light in the world in which we live, not to bring attention to ourselves, but to bring attention and glory to our great Savior. Strengthen us, we pray, and give us answers, Lord. And may we be honest about who we are in our walk with you and your place in our lives. Take us to where we need to be, Lord. Pour your favor out of North Point and all of the other campuses. God used this ministry to advance what you want to do, and may many be introduced to Jesus and become faithful followers. In Jesus name. Amen.