John: Last time on “Focus on the Family” with Jim Daly, John Stonestreet was our guest and he made this challenge to Christians about standing strong in your faith.
John S.: Christianity is true whether no one believes it or not–
John S.: –because Christianity is the way the world is. And when churches kind of go with the culture in order to be palatable, in order to winsome, but not truthful, that’s one of the ways that we can be taken captive, what Paul says, by hollow and deceptive ideas that depend on the tradition of men. So, we gotta back up all the time, back to the Scripture and say, “What is true; what is true; what is true?”
End of Recap
John: Well, it’s obvious that he’s thought a lot about absolute truth, Jim.
Jim: John, I want to say it again and say it a little differently. Christianity is true, whether everyone believes it or no one believes it. The truth of God is the truth of God. We’re not in a position to determine that. We simply have to live it and walk it through and I am looking forward to the second part of this discussion with John Stonestreet. I think people will find it very insightful.
John: Yeah, John is the executive director of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and is the cohost of “Breakpoint,” a radio feature and he’s also senior content advisor for Summit Ministries here in Colorado Springs. They work with college students to develop their worldview. Jim, I’ve had a daughter go through that. It’s a great program.
Jim: Hm … it is and I’m lookin’ forward to my boys doing it. John, it’s great to have you back at Focus on the Family.
John S.: Great. Thank you, Jim.
John S.: Thank you, John.
Jim: –I get energized by this kind of discussion, and I know some of you might feel like man, I don’t have time to listen to this. I hope you’ll reconsider. This is so important as we talk about how you perceive the world, how you live in the world, how you impact the world. Often we call it Christian worldview and people get lost in that terminology, ’cause it sounds big. It’s just who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish as a believer in this culture, in this world.
So, in that kind of setup, John, last time we left the marriage discussion. I asked you about the downturn in the support of marriage, the redefinition, all of that. We talked about why that redefinition is a symptom, a fruit of the problem, but not the root of the problem.
If you go back to the 1960s, I think it was, you know, someone that is beloved in the conservative community, Ronald Reagan, who was a tremendous President, when he was governor of California, he signed into law “No-Fault Divorce.” He was the first governor to do it, the first one in the United States. I think that was the beginning of the decoupling of marriage and commitment and the definition. Would you agree?
John S.: Absolutely, Jim and I’m glad you brought that up, because the definition of marriage has been long changed in the cultural imagination and it’s been long changed in the law. When you say that a married couple can walk away from a commitment that they’ve made in front of a community of people, in front of the state, in front of God, with no consequences and no real reasons, what you’ve done is essentially redefine marriage as an institution that furthers your happiness. And once it stops furthering your happiness, you can then exit. It’s the only contract we kinda have in the public space that people can just walk away from for no good reason with, you know, immunity. It’s kind of a crazy idea.
But you know, you see that same definition of marriage, not only in law, but in the cultural imagination–TV shows and movies. Ad you know, I remember, I grew up in the 80s. That was “The Cosby Show” that gave …
John S.: In “The Cosby Show,” the family was where you went to solve your problems. The very next decade was “Seinfeld.” In “Seinfeld,” the family was the source of the problems. And then you move that on until you have essentially sitcoms with blended families and now, you know, “Modern Family,” which is, here’s three different options of family—the trophy wife, you know, blended family, the traditional family and the same-sex couple. You can take your pick. This is what modern family is. So, family becomes this very fluid wide-open thing and it’s essentially, whatever makes you happy. But no-fault divorce put that in a law a long time ago.
Jim: Let me ask you this question, because again, to equip us to engage the culture, what’s wrong with marriage making me happy? Isn’t that a good goal for marriage?
John S.: Of course it is. The difference is what Lewis helped us understand–the difference between primary purpose and second purpose. There’s a primary purpose of things, which allows all the other purposes to be fulfilled. But if you take a secondary purpose and make it the primary purpose, then you lose everything, right?
The primary purpose of marriage is to build civilization. It’s actually to accomplish procreation, for the filling and forming of the planet. And when we’re living for a higher purpose, then happiness serves that purpose.
Jim: John, when you break that down and we’ll move on off the marriage topic in a minute, but it’s so core–
John S.: It is.
Jim: –to us as Christians and it’s becoming what defines us now.
John S.: Uh-hm.
Jim: I remember when Irreplaceable released, we had one of the movie theaters threaten to pull out, because they described it as “right-wing marriage.” My jaw dropped. I said, “Are you serious?” They said, “Yeah, you’re just gonna talk about one man, one woman; that’s right-wing marriage.” I couldn’t believe that, but folks, that’s the culture by and large, that we’re living in today, that now marriage between a man and a woman is right-wing marriage?
John S.: Uh-hm.
Jim: So, when you’re looking at that, how do we protect ourselves from letting the culture seep into our own hearts, that we’re not living for our own happiness, that we’re living for a greater purpose? And you know what? When you’re havin’ a disagreement with your wife as a Christian couple, this should be one of the early thoughts as you’re beginning to say, “Can I stay with her?” Or “Can I stay with him?” There’s so much more at stake than your marriage as a Christian, and you need to know it and count the cost.
John S.: You absolutely do. And when you say this is the world we now live in, that is kind of, I think, the ah-ha moment that a lot of Christians, especially on the conservative side, need to get to, which is, we know what marriage is. Our culture absolutely does not. So, the language of preserving marriage, preserving marriage.
And now it’s time for the church to help build up a vision of marriage. Now one of the ways, Jim, I think we need to do this is, we need to have this very hard conversation in the church about not just how to have a happy marriage, not just even how to have a godly marriage, but what is marriage? We gotta get back to those fundamental definitions, realizing that every single person that comes into our church, every single young couple that’s about to commit matrimony together, right, they have gotten their definition of marriage maybe from the culture. And we need to stop and say, “Wait a minute. Do you actually know what marriage is for?” And–
Jim: Well …
John S.: –start building on that.
Jim: That is great and one of the things that we’re tryin’ to do here at Focus on the Family is to provide you with those tools to have that kind of marriage. I mean …
John S.: Well, Irreplaceable is such a great example of exactly that.
John S.: And so was The Family Project.
Jim: And you know, counseling, we’re here to help.
John S.: Absolutely.
Jim: And that’s our primary mission, is to help you do better in your marriage. So, if you’re hurting, we know there’s pain out there and guess what everybody? We go through it, too. There’s times that we have disagreements. We aren’t perfect people. And we all need help at some point. So, I would say, pick up the phone. Call us if you’re struggling and John, you can give those details at the end of the program.But we’re here for you. That’s our primary mission
John S.: And you know, there’s a lot of families today and I travel a lot and I speak to a lot of young parents, who are really concerned when they see the breakdown of marriage, the redefinition of marriage. I even had one pastor look at me and say, “It’s over; we’ve lost.” And I want to stop and go, “Wait a minute. What’s over? The kingdom of God isn’t over.” And part of having a Christian worldview is realizing that there’s a bigger story of redemption that Christ has written, because He rose from the dead. No matter how broken culture seems, we have hope.
And there’s this passage in Acts, where Paul’s talking to the folks at Mars Hill. And he makes this statement where he says that, “God determined the exact times people live in the boundaries of their dwelling place.”Now put that together.
John S.: So, Jim and John, as much as we are confused and maybe even disillusioned by the breakdown of marriage in our society, God intended that we and our families and our children live in this culture and not in another one. He wants us to be a redemptive influence on a broken world. It’s not just surviving. It’s living out that joining of the Gospel, that joining of Christ’s redemptive work in the culture, believing that it’s true and that it will ultimately win.
Jim: Ah … John, you’re a student of culture, and I want to ask you this question. Of course, you were tutored by Chuck Colson and a terrific leader and inspirational visionary. When you look at the culture and again, with Christians specifically, what are we lacking? Why are we failing at convincing the culture that this is the way? This is one question that really haunts me. If things were so good and God was at the center in the 50s and all of that, why did people move away from it?
John S.: Right.
Jim: What caused them to say, there must be something better, ’cause I don’t like this. I don’t like “Leave It To Beaver.” Really? Why?
John S.: You know, Jim, I think the Scripture at one level describes that we have a sin nature and that we tend to gravitate towards autonomy. We want to be our own god, and the sexual revolution, and certainly, this whole ideological framework that came in, that humans aren’t made in the image of God and so on, made that a lot more compelling to people. But there’s also, I think we’ve got to own up to the failures that we’ve had as Christians, the church has had. And we didn’t always treat sexuality in that same sacred way. And in one very important sense, our words and our actions didn’t match up.
John S.: So, if you asked me, what’s missing? I would say two things. What was missing first of all was the “why?” We gave a lot of the “what.”
John S.: This is what Christians think. This is how Christians act. But we failed to realize that as we were portraying this one vision, another vision was coming in and it was giving a different why. I know Todd Gitlinn in his book, The Sixties, he’s a leftist, secularist author and he said, “After the ’60s, the Right marched on the White House and the Left marched on the English department.”
John S.: And if you think about that, two generations later, they had both gotten what they aimed for. Another generation after that, the Left had gotten both. Why is that? Because they gave a lie. And we’ve gotta go back to giving the “why?” Why do we have this Christian value? Why do we believe in this crazy thing called “sexual holiness” and “sexual … chast….” I mean, where does that even come? And that’s so bizarre to most people to even think that way. You gotta give the “why.” And secondly, and Jim, you have been a leader in talking about this; our actions have to match our words.
John S.: We’ve gotta live what we believe. We say we believe in redemption. Well, then let’s offer them that redemption and restoration, not just throw them under the bus for doing something wrong.
Jim: I appreciate that, John, because it burns in my heart when we’re disparaging toward people–
John S.: Right.
Jim: –even people that, you know, disagree with us viciously at time. Boy, the book of Luke is so clear, to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you. I think it’s that Stephen[‘s] approach that, even if people are sending me pain emotionally, what have you, I want to have the presence of mind to pray for them, to think of their souls being lost forever, forever in hell. That’s a reality for us as Christians. That’s what we believe is true and our hearts should break for people that don’t know Christ. I mean, He is the Good News, that salvation has come and so often it seems like it’s just a small part of us and we need to change that.
John S.: I think that’s an indicator of whether we have a Christian worldview or not–
Jim: The fruit of the Spirit.
John S.: — in some … the fruit of the Spirit. If we are despairing about the way the culture is, that’s clear that we’re missing part of the story, which is Christ has risen. One of Chuck Colson’s closest collaborators was a Catholic thinker named Richard John Newhouse, founder of First Things magazine. He wrote what is still one of my favorite articles on culture, in which he says this. “Christians have not reason to despair, because despair is a sin.”
John S.: And Christians have not right to despair, because Christ has risen. A Christian worldview means that we’re seeing all of life in that perspective, that no matter how crazy it gets, you know, the mystery of faith that many of us repeat every Sunday, Christ has come. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ is coming again. That’s the true story. And we can live with hope and then we look at other people, Jim, like you were saying and realize they’re not our enemy. They’re also taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy.
John S.: And Paul says that the servant of Christ–this is what he wrote to Timothy–should gently persuade in the hopes to set the captives free. So, we’re not to be taken captive by bad ideas. And we’re supposed to help set the captives free. It’s a great life mission statement I think.
Jim: It really is, and that’s 2 Timothy, the end of chapter two.
John S.: Right.
Jim: I’d encourage you to read it. Just open your Bible, 2 Timothy, chapter 2 and that’s a profound statement about how to deal with the world and we should do it.
John S.: You know, Jim, we use this lingo around, especially dealing with homosexuality and same-sex marriage. You know, love the sinner; hate the sin. And you know, a lot of those across the aisle from us on this issue hate that phrase. You know, we look at ourselves and let’s be honest. For many of us, all we ever really found time to do was hate the sin. We never really got around … we have no tangible evidence many of us, that we actually loved the sinner–
Jim: Who has relationship–
John S.: –while we were hating …
Jim: –with someone–
John S.: That’s right.
Jim: –like that.
John S.: And so, I–
Jim: I mean, that’s …
John S.: –I think the restorative action of Jesus Christ in the world through His church in the coming days in a broken culture, is always by providing relational hope.
Jim: Yeah, I agree and this is healthy. I mean, it’s so good to look inside. I mean—
John S.: I mean …
Jim: –again, that’s another Scripture. Look at the log in your own eye before you try to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye. This is what we’re talkin’ about; what’s happening in our own heart? Where are we not aligning with the Lord’s heart in reaching the world for Him? And the better we do that, I think the greater the fruit. John, let me turn a corner here right at the midpoint. We’re talkin’ today with John Stonestreet. You’re listening to “Focus on the Family,” His book, Making Sense of Your World, is the topic of discussion. How Do Christians Form a Worldview That Reflects God’s Heart?
John, you’re the father of six kids and a couple of those kids are in their 20s now. And you know, they’re puttin’ a little pressure on you and I don’t want to put pressure on you and make you uncomfortable. A lot of us as parents are either anticipating that, or living it right now like you. They’re askin’ tough questions, aren’t they?
John: Well, they are, and I was just thinking about one of those adult children, as John Stonestreet was sharing about this need for us to be consistent and authentic and to live what we believe. When one of those kids was in his teens, he saw Christian hypocrisy up close and personal, a lot of young men that he was hangin’ around with said one thing publicly, and then privately, they were just really goin’ out of bounds and doin’ some crazy things.
And he had a moment where he just said, “I don’t think that’s right and I want to hang around people that are authentic.” And so, he’s wandered uh–
John: –to some degree from what we’ve taught him and it’s an uncomfortable place to be, because he’s not necessarily expressing a faith that we’ve tried to engrain and pass on. But really the turning point was seein’ people that didn’t live out their faith in a consistent way.
Jim: John, let me come back to you for a second, because as a dad, how do you manage that with your sons now and friends that you know. You talk about it when you speak and you’ve written about being a dad.
John: Uh-hm, yeah.
Jim: What do you do now? How do you get him as close to the orbit as possible, so that you and Dena have hope?
John: Yeah, I think the answer is, we don’t try to get him–
John S.: Uh-hm.
John: –closer to God, right? I mean (Laughter), the irony is, we try and try as parents to make a good hand-off of that faith, but there’s no guarantee. And there’s free-will involved here, and I also am a firm believer in God’s sovereignty. And so, I think God can speak. So, we really don’t talk a whole lot about spiritual matters. We love him and we have a great relationship with him and he comes over a lot and he’s fun. And I pray for him, but I don’t preach at him.
Jim: But it …
John: That would ring hollow, and he would reject that pretty quickly.
Jim: You know, so often, too and the theme of today’s program is not a parenting program, but we make that mistake where we’re trying to own their faith. We’re trying to own their journey.And you can’t. We call it things like “helicopter parenting” or “hovering” or whatever it might be. And especially in the Christian community, we’re so concerned about where our 20-something kids are at, if they’re not walkin’ the line, that we can overreach, too. You know, in a worldview kind of context, John, how do you recommend parents manage that, like John? How would you counsel him?
John S.: Well, you know, the upside of the idea that Christianity is true about everything; it’s not just true about how I get to heaven or have a relationship with God; it’s true about the world. There’s a lot of ways to have conversations about things that really matter without preaching. And I think the worst thing to do is to preach at kids that are thinking on their own and now about to kind of run away, because it has to do with context of hypocrisy, John, like you brought up.
But you know, you can talk about government. You can talk about economics. You can talk about history and you can talk about entertainment and sports. And it brings you back to things like, what’s true? And what’s right and wrong? And how do you know? And why did that idea have such bad consequences?
And so, I love, again, the way that Jesus approached people. People would come to Him with a question and Jesus most often answered with another question.
John S.: What do you mean by that? And how do you know that’s true? What does the law actually say there, right? And it becomes this conversation. Parents, I think, are very tempted to have a monologue and I think it’s much more effective to have a dialogue.
Jim: John, as we come in for a landing, let’s emphasize Jesus. You know, so often we talk about spiritual things and we talk about God. What is the central role Jesus Christ has served for our heavenly Father and for those of us who embrace Him? I love His dialogue with Pontius Pilate, because as Pontius Pilate was tryin’ to get to the root of, what is goin’ on here? And that’s a paraphrase obviously.
John S.: Uh-hm.
Jim: Jesus response to his question, to say, “I’ve come to testify to the truth.” That’s a profound statement and we kinda glibly go by that. He told us why He came, to testify to the truth—the truth of the universe, the truth of all that is, the truth that who we are and what we live in, tell us who Jesus was and is.
John S.: Well, the Scripture reveals in us, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And He’s King Jesus, right? I mean, when He ascended and Peter preached that sermon on Pentecost, Peter not only included the crucifixion and the resurrection; he included the ascension and said, “Now everything is at His feet.” So, Jesus is the center of history.
C.S. Lewis once said, that the “central miracle asserted by Christianity is the incarnation, that God became man. If it happened, it was what the entire story of history is about.”
Jim: Past and–
John S.: Past, present–
John S.: –and future. Now this is huge, because it doesn’t mean that Jesus blesses our lives and Jesus just blesses history and Jesus just is more important than these other events. It’s that we can see all of life through who Jesus Christ was. John says, He was there at the beginning. “All things were made by Him and He became flesh and dwelt among us. And in Him was life and that life is the light of men.” Jesus is at the center of the Christian worldview. He makes us right with God. He shows us what is true. He shows us how to live. And He leads us into a hope, because we know that the future is secure, because of what He did at the cross and the resurrection and the ascension.
Jim: And John, going back to your story last time, the bitter woman–
John S.: Uh-hm.
Jim: –who at 80-ish was your guess, thought of God as a God with a stick.
John S.: Right.
Jim: That He was ready to beat me if I ever stepped out of line. That is not the message of the Gospel.
John S.: That is not the message–
John S.: –of the Gospel.
Jim: —loves us and was willing to die for us. Describe that attribute of God, His humility, His care, His kindness, His joy, His peace.
John S.: No, and you know, Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the trajectory of God throughout the entire pages of Scripture. And let me unlock what I mean by that. From the very beginning, God aims to come and be with His people who He created. Most other faiths and worldviews and religions have us trying to get to truth somewhere, right? But from the very beginning, God is walking with Adam and Eve. God deals personally with Cain. God comes and calls out Noah. God comes and pulls Abraham out of the nations. God comes and leads the children of Israel out.
And then what do we have Paul says that God was pleased to have His fullness dwell in bodily form. But the entire pages of Scripture, God comes and is with His people, and He comes and visits. And if we want to know the ultimate heart of God to us, you go to the new heavens and new earth in Revelation, because suddenly, God stops visiting His people. And the reason He stops visiting His people is, He moves into our neighborhood. He makes His dwelling among us. He “tabernacles” the Bible says, around us. So, the ultimate end of all things is that we are in the presence of God.
Jim: Right now.
John S.: And He gives us His Holy Spirit right now. And so, we have an illustration all the way throughout the pages of Scripture that especially in Jesus Christ, God loves us and He wants to be with His people.
Jim: John, that is really well-said, and I am so excited. There are people who, maybe they thought they had a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, but now they’re thinking, maybe not.
John S.: Right.
Jim: Call us. Let us talk you through that. Man, we have caring Christian counselors here. We have a booklet, “An Invitation to Join God’s Family.” We’d love to send that to you. This is the biggest decision a person makes in their life. It’s not buying a home. It’s not who you’re gonna marry. It’s what’s your core believe about God? And we want to make sure you understand it.
I made that commitment in college. I uh … accepted Christ at 15, but wobbled along. It was in college when I was challenged, “what is it that you believe?”, that I really had to figure it out. And I thank the Lord that many people took the time to express it. If you’re searching or if you’re living halfway, get in the boat all the way.
John S.: Hm.
Jim: Let God help you. Call us and ask us how you do it and John, what’s the number they need to call?
John: Well, it’s 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459. And Jim, that booklet, “Coming Home: An Invitation Join God’s Family” is also at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Jim: John, as we end right now, can you pray for those that aren’t where they need to be? And they know it. It’s true; this is simple as waken’ up in the morning. In your heart of hearts you know where you’re at. Pray for the person that’s a quarter of the way, half the way, is nowhere near the way. Pray for them.
John S.: Father, You are truth and You have not only told us the truth in Your Word, You embodied the truth in Your Son, Jesus Christ. We find ourselves as human beings, oftentimes in the midst of really bad decisions that we’ve made, maybe bad decisions that others have made against us.
Your Word calls it “folly” and we can see, some of us, because we’re in the middle of it, just how foolish we’ve been or how foolish others have been. And we’re paying that price. And God, we’re thankful that you have not left us on our own. You haven’t left us to grasp in the dark, trying to find You, trying to find what You want from us.
And Father, most of all, You have not left us in the dark, trying to overcome our own folly. In Christ, You have made a way so that we could be reunited with You. We could land and plant our feet on the truth and we can live our lives realizing the way the world really is, a creation of You and a redeemed destination of all things through Your Son, Jesus Christ.
God, would Your Holy Spirit nudge those who need to be nudged right now, to take seriously the claims of Jesus Christ, that’s … that … the Way, the Truth and the Life, as the One Who leads us to the Father, forgives our sins, pays the price for them and give us new life, empowers us with the Holy Spirit and puts us in a family that’s part of your kingdom that’ll have no end.
Thank You for that Truth with a capital T, that we can know. And God, please, please nudge those along to respond to that today we pray, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Jim: Amen. And let me add, no one is beyond the reach of God.
John S.: Amen.
Jim: I don’t care what state your life is in right now and what you’re encountering, no one is beyond God’s reach.
Jim: John Stonestreet, author of the book, Making Sense of Your World, taking the place of Chuck Colson on “BreakPoint, thank you for all you do for our nation.
John S.: Oh, God bless you; thank you, Jim; thank you, John.
John: Well, and if you prayed with John during those closing moments to receive Jesus Christ into your life, please let us know that when you call or write. And if you’d like to pray with one of our counselors, if you have an issue in your life that you just can’t seem to push through or what you’ve heard today has really stirred up a longing to know more about Christ, it’d be a privilege for us to talk with you and help.
I’d also like to urge you to learn more about the Christian worldview of marriage and family when you ask for the new DVD set that we produced, The Family Project. And we’ve talked about these past couple of days. It’s just been released and The Family Project series is perfect for small-group use and you’ll find it inspirational. It really drives home the message of why family matters. And you can learn more at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or call us. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And when you make a gift to Focus on the Family today of at least $100, we’ll send you the DVD set as a thank you for supporting us and encouragement to you in the coming days to have a biblical worldview.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and made possible by generous listeners like you. On behalf of Jim Daly, thanks for listening. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back next time. We’ll have Gary Thomas here to help married couples draw closer together and to God, as we bring trusted advice to help you and your family thrive.