Who You Truly Are

Last week, I began a series about being true to yourself. No, I’m not talking about the self-love hippy dippy nonsense. I’m talking about boldly confronting yourself and making a choice—the choice to acknowledge who you are today, admit your shortcomings, see your potential, and move forward towards what God desires for you. We’ve already talked about recognizing the real you. Today, we tackle the next step.

Acknowledge Who You Are

Allowing yourself to think honestly about who you are can be quite the task, but it takes a bit more effort to accept the truths you find and acknowledge who you are, to yourself and to others. It’s easy to ask yourself what you enjoy, what makes you tick, and why you have certain tendencies. It’s a lot more difficult to say “I’m impatient,” “I care a lot about what certain people think of me,” or “I have potential I’m not realizing.”

You need to acknowledge where you are before you can get somewhere else. Nobody ever got good at playing the guitar by saying “learning guitar seems neat.” No. They first had to acknowledge their lack of ability, then let that drive them to learn. Only then did they grow and change for the better, gaining something new and valuable. The same holds true for character.

Words Have Power

I’ve noticed that the smallest of phrases can sometimes make a huge difference in living more authentically. When I got saved, I realized God had given me a heart for people I didn’t have before. So I started saying “thank you” a lot more often. I felt convicted to communicate gratitude to people, both as a form of encouragement and an acknowledgement that they met some of my needs. It was part of how I put my salvation into practice.

Another huge one for me was admitting fault or ignorance. Instead of coming up with excuses, I started saying “I was wrong.” Instead of guessing the answer to a question, I started saying “I don’t know.” It was weird at first. I was so used to putting up my guard to keep my pride and ego intact. Now I was fighting against that instinct. At first, it was uncomfortable. Then I realized it was freeing. I could be more honest with myself and others. I didn’t have to pretend. Being me was easier than fitting into the costume of a fictional character who was always right and always smart.

God Made You Special

One essential part of acknowledging who you are is accepting that God created and loves you. This is hard for some people. Whether it’s feeling like we’re unwanted, unloved, or unworthy, Christians regularly struggle with their identity in Christ. It’s something we overlook far too often. Here are some truths you can hold onto.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

God created us. He formed us with love and care, designing a purpose and future for each of us. The Bible is clear about this. Paul reinforces that God not only made us, but predestined us for salvation and worship.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV)

The most important part of our identity in Christ is the work Christ did on the cross. This is when God truly proved his love for us and put it on magnificent display.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

John 3:16-17 (ESV)

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8 (ESV)

Jesus is the proof of God’s ultimate love for us. The cross is where God’s goodness and mercy finally win over mankind’s wickedness, forgiveness wins over judgement, and we gain new life in Christ rather than being condemned to death. Praise God for all that was accomplished. So what do we do now?

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.”

John 15:5, 10-11, 16a (ESV)

We obey. We follow. We live our new lives for Christ. It only makes sense. He gave us a second chance. He loved us from the very beginning and saved us despite our rebellion and hatred for him. Now that our eyes are open, we look to God and do our very best with the short time we have to serve and worship our Lord. So acknowledge who you are, but more importantly, acknowledge what God has done for you, how he loves you, and what he desires for your life. Only there will you find true purpose and peace.

Next time, we’ll look at what it means to take the knowledge of who you truly are and move forward unto action. Let me know your thoughts about this series in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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Be True to Yourself

Nothing annoys me more than someone fake.

I’d rather talk to a newly saved Christian who’s confused about why Jesus had to die on the cross than an educated theologian who tweets that “Jesus was a socialist.” The difference is that one of them is being honest, acknowledging their ignorance and seeking truth; the other is putting on a show to score political points. The theologian has no excuse. He knows better, yet still chooses to propagate a lie.

You see it every day. Maybe your dad has convinced himself that buying more gadgets will make him happy when you know he’s empty inside. Maybe your friend follows the latest trends and always seems to agree with whatever the news is saying. Maybe you’ve found yourself pressured by your peers, only to give in and conform to their preferences for the sake of feeling valued. It’s hard to resist. It’s hard to be true to yourself.

Isn’t That Sinful?

What complicates this further is that being true to oneself has gotten a bad rap in some Christian circles today. This is for good reason. When most modern media tells us to be true to ourselves, what they’re really saying is that we are the god of our own hedonistic pursuits. “Do what makes you happy! Live for you! Follow your heart!” This kind of thinking is purely selfish and runs counter to the truth of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Luke 12:15 (ESV)

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30 (ESV)

But let’s leave pride and pleasure-seeking aside for now. Today, I want to talk about being true to yourself in the context of following Christ. I’m talking about vulnerable authenticity and self-reflection followed by diligent sanctification and accountability.

Merriam-Webster defines authenticity as being “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” But if we stopped there, we’d be left in our own selfishness, authentically sinful. We have to go further. Recognize and acknowledge who you are, but proceed then to bold action in living out your potential as God’s child, remaining vigilant to combat temptation and darkness within you.

My goal is to take this process and address it one step at a time. Bear with me. I know some of this might sound like self-help mumbo jumbo on the surface, but I’m convinced this is an essential part of maturing in your faith and identity as a genuine Christian.

Recognize the Real You

The first step is to recognize the real you—not what you present to your friends, not what your social media shows, and not who you wish you were. Just you. Confront yourself and really dig deep. Who are you? What fulfills you? What makes you cry? What do you daydream about? What tempts you to sin? What do you spend most of your free time doing? What do you believe about the nature of God, your purpose on this earth, and the purpose of those around you?

If you have friends you can trust, ask them what they observe about you. What would they say are your habits, values, or fears? What would they say are the things you talk most passionately about and the weaknesses you display?

Some people live their whole lives without ever answering these questions. It’s too easy to live on autopilot, pretending that what matters most is what you’re doing right now and what form of entertainment or frivolity is waiting around the corner. But life’s substance doesn’t consist of Marvel movies, mocha lattes, or Instagram. Life’s substance consists of real people, real choices, and real consequences. If you don’t take ownership of your life, you’ll quickly find yourself drifting in a sea of mediocrity, bereft of purpose or identity. Don’t let it happen. You have to nail it down. Who are you?

This isn’t to say you have to figure everything out all at once. In fact, most people will give up if they try to handle too much too quickly. Instead, just challenge yourself a little bit every day. It’s part of how we all grow up. But while most people avoid the big questions until they’re staring them in the face, I’d argue the better approach is to seek them out and deal with them head on.

Talk to Yourself

An easy way to do this is to answer those questions in a journal or other creative outlet. For me, I wrote poems. Boy, did I write poems. I would whip out my phone wherever I was and write down exactly how I felt, what I was struggling with, or who I was becoming. It was immensely helpful in figuring out who I really was and what demons I needed to wrestle. I didn’t care if it was embarrassing. I would write down my sins in all their ugly detail. I didn’t care if I was immature. I would write the most edgy stuff sometimes. I didn’t care if I had all the answers yet. I would frequently have dialogues with myself about things I wasn’t yet decided on, just to get a better grasp on the issue or situation. It was therapeutic. I highly recommend it.

Revealing these hidden parts of your identity and turning them inside out is a key step on the road to being true to yourself in a way that honors God more fully. Next week, we’ll talk about what it means to acknowledge who you are and really own up to it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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Do All Christians Have to go to Church?

I’ve seen some rather frustrating takes on the internet recently about church. It seems the obligation to go to church has all but died out with the general population, and many people who call themselves Christians have given up on church as well. But why is this?

I think, in part, it’s a natural progression of our increasingly secular society. Over time, America has turned from a very traditionalist, “Christian” country into a progressive melting pot of all kinds of ideas, religions, lifestyles, and peoples. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, per se. It’s definitely made it harder to be openly Christian, but we still have it great compared to most of the world. We can still worship, study the Word, and meet together without fear in the vast majority of situations. And one thing we consider all too infrequently is that genuine faith shines brightest in the darkness (check out this comic from Adam4d).

But this isn’t meant to be a post about the evolution of religion and Christianity in America, as fun as that would be to talk about. So let’s get back on track. Church. It’s a word that inspires indifference, disgust, or guilt for many. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Let me tell you about my time wrestling with this issue; then we’ll look at what the Bible says about it.

My Experience Growing Up in the Church

As a kid, my parents always made us attend church on Sundays, and sometimes Sunday nights too. I knew it was something I was supposed to do. I knew it was a place with people I knew, and occasionally things to do or food to eat. But that was about it. Church wasn’t something I desired or enjoyed, in most cases. I always grumbled when dad got us out of bed early every week.

Then I got saved. At about age 14, I came to the realization that following in my parents’ footsteps was dumb. Either Christianity was right or it wasn’t. If it was, I needed to actually read the Bible and obey the God who was willing to die for me. If it wasn’t, the only logical thing to do would be to abandon the faith and not look back. After all, what’s the use of a religion if it isn’t true?

After reading through the entire Bible for the first time, praying more than I ever had in my life, studying practical and scientific objections to the Bible, and reading book after book, I came to the conclusion that the Bible is true. All the evidence pointed to Jesus. At this point, I felt I had no choice. To pursue truth was to pursue God’s words. The Bible clearly established church as something important (we’ll get to that). I now had a concrete reason to go to church. But as I grew up, I moved away to college. The drive to church was longer and my sleep schedule became downright irresponsible at times. I didn’t go every week, and many times I’d leave immediately after the service was over. I felt disillusioned at this time with more than just church, for more than a few reasons.

After a while, a lot of things improved for me, but I still wasn’t satisfied with church. Was it just me? Was I a bad Christian? After talking with my brothers, I realized they felt similarly. The church I was going to at the time felt a bit disconnected and aimless, especially for young people. This isn’t meant to discount the church as a whole. There were, and still are, some incredible Christians there. But I realized it wasn’t working for me, so I looked for a new group of Christians to meet with.

Today, I’m very thankful to God for the church I’ve found. I’ve had more opportunities to serve, hear truth, and meet fellow young Christians than ever. Part of this is because I matured over time. I realized I had to be more involved than I was. But part of this was the church itself. Why do I tell you this? Because I want you to know that even a “church kid” like me has had ups and downs. I’ve felt obligated, annoyed, and discouraged. I’ve skipped church to sleep in. I’ve avoided people and struggled finding my place. Despite the face a lot of Christians put on, church isn’t just a wonderful festival of joy every week for everyone.

What Does the Bible Say About Church?

Now that you know where I’m coming from on this issue, let’s take a look at what the Bible says regarding church. It’s important to note that the New Testament was written at a time when the early church was still developing. Today, we talk about buildings, potlucks, music teams, schedules, and special services. But to early Christians, church was a lot more simple than all of that. It was about meeting together to worship God and encourage one another. And remember, none of these letters were addressing individuals, but rather a whole group of Christians.

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 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. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV)

Here, Paul gives us a beautiful picture of the church as a temple. Christians are the building blocks and Christ is the cornerstone. We are all joined together as one. We cannot fulfill this alone. To be a lone brick is to be useless. A brick is designed to come together with hundreds of other bricks to build a home. The same is true for how God designed us. This theme is throughout the New Testament.

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (ESV)

More common than the brick analogy is Paul’s idea of a body with many limbs or “members.” Though many, we are one body of believers. This is the definition of the church. It’s the gathering of believers in the name of Christ. Now notice the last line: “The body does not consist of one member but of many.” This is undeniably proof that you cannot be a church-less Christian. It’s impossible. To be a Christian is to be a member of a body. If you aren’t a member of a group of believers, you simply aren’t living the life God has called you to.

“And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”

Colossians 1:18 (ESV)

Christ is the head of the body, just as he is the cornerstone of the temple. His place as God’s Son, having all things created through him (John 1), and having risen from the dead, is what makes him worthy of our worship. He is why we gather together.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Colossians 3:15-16 (ESV)

Here, we get a better idea of what church ought to look like. We are called to peace and thankfulness to God. We should know his words. We should be teaching and keeping each other accountable. We should be singing together. You can see this pattern of the early church reflected in many churches of today. This is why we meet the way we do. This is why we have liturgies and music and sermons. This is why church cannot be appropriated to just you, a Bible, and nature. No matter how spiritual or helpful your solitary experiences are, they are not and can never be “church.” Don’t fool yourself.

“And 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 (ESV)

It’s not just Paul commanding us to meet for church. This passage from Hebrews is one of the clearest commands in the Bible to meet together regularly. The reason I saved it for last is because, on its own, it doesn’t fully define why we meet or what that looks like. But with the context of the other passages, it’s easy to see that this is a command not just to have more baby showers or game nights, but to have more church. A key part of that is encouraging one another towards love and good works. In today’s world, I think we could stand for a lot more of that kind of encouragement.

There are so many more passages we could talk about. We could look at church discipline, sacraments, baptism, persecution, unity, and much more. I encourage you to read the letters of the New Testament (as well as Acts) for more clarity on these issues. In all honesty, I’m convinced that those who choose not to belong to a church have little to no experience reading the Bible. It’s such a pervasive and dominant topic that it’s extremely hard to miss and impossible to deny its importance.

What Should Church Really Look Like?

Now, we might ask ourselves: What should church look like for us today? What are we actually called to do? Do we really need all these traditions and rituals? It’s clear that many aspects of modern church are rooted in Scripture. Some examples might be church leaders (Titus 1:5-9), music (Eph 5:19), baptism (1 Cor 12:13), prayer (Matt 18:20, James 5:16), public readings of the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), encouragement (1 Thess 5:11), and the sharing of food, resources, and money for the betterment of the church (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37).

But there are, of course, some things that go unmentioned in Scripture. There is no command to meet in a fancy building, to market your church to the world to boost attendance, to give exactly ten percent of your income, to meet on Sunday mornings, or to host social events. All these things, and more, are ancillary at best and heretical at worst. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor who was killed for his involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler, had some harsh words for the churches he saw when he visited America.

“So what stands in place of the Christian message? An ethical and social idealism borne by a faith in progress that—who knows how—claims the right to call itself ‘Christian.’ And in the place of the church as the congregation of believers in Christ there stands the church as a social corporation.

“Anyone who has seen the weekly program of one of the large New York churches, with their daily, indeed almost hourly events, teas, lectures, concerts, charity events, opportunities for sports, games, bowling, dancing for every age group, anyone who has heard how they try to persuade a new resident to join the church, insisting that you’ll get into society quite differently by doing so, anyone who has become acquainted with the embarrassing nervousness with which the pastor lobbies for membership—that person can well assess the character of such a church.

“All these things, of course, take place with varying degrees of tactfulness, taste, and seriousness; some churches are basically ‘charitable’ churches; others have primarily a social identity. One cannot avoid the impression, however, that in both cases they have forgotten what the real point is.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Christians today have a responsibility to meet together in a way that honors our Lord rather than grieving him. In a time when church has become a dirty word and religion a bad taste in the mouth of the populace, it’s all too tempting to transform our churches into something more appealing and modern. But Jesus didn’t declare Peter to be a business tycoon. Paul never rebuked anyone for having small attendance numbers. Church was never supposed to be a social club.

“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Acts 17:11 (ESV)

It all comes back to the Bible. Hold it higher than any word spoken by men. Hold the Bible’s standard for church higher than your desire to make church into something more fun, attractive, or convenient. It’s not about you. It’s about Christ. It’s about meeting regularly to honor, worship, and serve our God together. “Let us go to the house of the Lord! (Psalm 122:1)”

Let me know your thoughts about church in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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What a Man Needs

Purpose

A man needs responsibility and ambition. He needs a Savior to follow and a Lord to worship. He needs a wife to love, a family to care for and protect. He needs a job to be done and done well. He needs a part of the world to repair and to keep. He needs a student to teach, a friend to stand with, a team to lead, an army to fight alongside. He needs a part in history. He needs a path to follow that sustains his soul rather than draining it slowly. He needs understanding of God, of himself, and of the reason he was created.

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV)

Discipline

A man needs to be the master of his own body, mind, and soul. He needs discipline of his spirit, that he follow Christ above all other pursuits and seek to know him more fully. He needs discipline of his thoughts, that they not lead him to worthlessness, greed, or evil. He needs discipline of his tongue, to reserve it for only that which is true and purposeful, never to use it as a weapon against the innocent. He needs discipline of his eyes, that they not lead him into envy, idolatry, or lust. He needs discipline of his hands, that he use his strength to build and to protect rather than to dominate those weaker than him.

“Urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity”

Titus 2:6-7 (ESV)

Freedom

A man needs liberation. He needs the freedom to worship God. He needs the freedom to love purely and to feel deeply. He needs the freedom to protect that which is precious to him. He needs freedom to say yes and freedom to say no. He needs freedom to uphold that which is good and destroy that which is evil. He needs freedom from tyranny and slavery; freedom from any fellow man who would keep his teeth in the mud. He needs freedom from dependence, from addiction, and from the sinful, lazy man inside himself.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Galatians 5:13 (ESV)

Respect

A man needs honor and dignity. He needs the respect of his family, his friends, and his peers. He needs the respect of his leaders, that they trust him to do what is necessary. Most of all, he needs self-respect and integrity. Those who believe in him, trust him, and challenge him towards greatness will fuel his actions, inspire his work, and mature his self-reflection from hollow selfishness into the humility he needs to receive respect like a man rather than a boy.

“Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”

Proverbs 31:23 (ESV)

Influence

A man needs to determine his own destiny and change the world for the better. He needs to see the lasting impact of his acts of healing in people and objects alike. He needs to improve his environment, to create something new and captivating, to mold one thing into another. He needs to fell a forest, conquer a mountain, claim a land, slay a beast. His will is upheld by his ability to ultimately overcome through blood, sweat, and tears unto glorious victory.

“He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.”

2 Samuel 23:10 (ESV)

Let me know your thoughts about what it means to be a man in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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Entertaining Demons

Most people say they’re “fighting their demons” by overcoming weakness, addiction, or trauma. Recently, I’ve been fighting my demons in another way—by silencing the inner voices that I love to hear the most.

That Little Voice

If you mention an inner voice, most people immediately think of their conscience. This voice bugs you to stop before doing something wrong or encourages you towards something you ought to do. But I’m not talking about your conscience today. I’m talking about what some people might associate with self-esteem or ego.

This other voice is the one telling you that your significant other isn’t worthy of you, that you should be annoyed at your lazy roommate, or that you deserve more respect from your coworkers. In short, this voice is concerned with your pride and has an incredible talent for torturing you without your awareness.

The Inner War

Let me give you an example. This last week, I gave a presentation. I had been working on it for a while and I wanted it to go well. It did. Once it was over, I heard a soft voice in the back of my head.

Wouldn’t it be great if people congratulated you? That’s not too much to ask, is it? They should praise you. You deserve recognition for your hard work. Invite it. Bask in it.

At first, it sounds reasonable enough. I did work for this. Maybe I do deserve something for it. I can take a compliment, right? That’d be nice. Our culture loves this mentality. It’s easily disguised as confidence or healthy self-esteem. In reality, it’s usually nothing more than conceit.

“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Proverbs 26:12 (ESV)

“Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 16:5, 18 (ESV)

I hope you can see now what I mean. I’m not disparaging confidence, assertiveness, or a healthy mental attitude. Those are all great qualities to have. I’m simply trying to unmask the sinful pride we so often hide behind other labels.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

Romans 12:3 (ESV)

In my example, my inner voice is tempting me towards pride. It mixes truth in there to encourage me to justify it as something neutral or positive. The truth is that I gave a successful presentation, that I am valued, and that I’m using the gifts my Savior gave me. The lie is that I got to where I am independent of God, that I deserve praise, and that I need man’s approval to be satisfied in my work.

I like to think of that tempting voice as a demon of selfishness I have to constantly fight off or an enemy I have to guard against. But the thing is, it’s not a demon or a fiend. It’s me.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

James 1:14-15 (ESV)

This is the true culprit. It’s my selfish nature, my sinful flesh, the “old man.” But it doesn’t feel like it’s me. It just feels like a comforting resentment, a gentle push towards quick satisfaction, a quenching of my thirst for self-gratification. It feels good. And that’s the hardest part.

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

Romans 7:15, 18-20 (ESV)

We have to challenge this voice. We cannot let it go unrestrained. It will lead us away to death by continuously pulling us down into sin. So how do we fight it? What can save us from ourselves?

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9 (ESV)

Only by confessing and offering ourselves to God can we escape our enslavement to sin. We cannot live without a master. We must serve something. We are incapable of apathy, unable to rid ourselves of a desire to worship. So we must find something worthy of our worship, a substitute to our worship of self.

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

Romans 6:12-14 (ESV)

I’ve taken to using a unique strategy in being mindful about combating my inner voice. When I hear it tempting me, I yell at it… in my head, of course. “Shut up!” “No!” It’s a way I can interrupt my autopilot thoughts and refocus my attention in the moment. I question what I’m telling myself rather than accept it automatically. It helps. Obviously, there’s more to it than that. I have to offer myself to God and confess my sin if I want to keep it from gaining a foothold. Daily commitment to scripture reading and prayer, along with a church community willing to keep me accountable, is essential.

I love the way the King James Version puts these verses:

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Ephesians 4:22-24 (KJV)

That’s the key to this process of fighting off our inner voice of selfishness. We must put off the old man and renew our spirits, allowing the new man to take control and lead us towards holiness. Only with God’s help can we become people who truly serve him and are satisfied in him alone.

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV)

So stop listening. Stop letting your inner voice lead you down paths of logic towards the gallows. Stop bargaining with yourself to see how much sin you can get away with before it catches up to you. Refuse to let it bind you. Run towards freedom. Freedom from our inner demons doesn’t come through acceptance of sin, blind positivity, or being self-sufficient. It comes through Christ.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Galatians 5:1 (ESV)

Let me know your thoughts about battling inner demons in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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Should Christians Pay Tax?

Yes, we should. But why? And what about when our taxes go towards things that aren’t right?

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God… For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

Romans 13:1, 6-7 (ESV)

I think most of us would agree that paying taxes is right for a Christian. After all, it’s outlined pretty clearly here. God establishes government to keep law and order. We obey him in paying taxes. We should not do this begrudgingly. We should see it as our due to the institution God has given to serve us and keep us safe.

Paul goes further by saying we should honor and respect our leaders, not merely tolerate them. This can be hard in our current age of partisan hatred and vitriol, but it’s our job as Christians to be different from the world. Resist the temptation to fall in line with how everyone else is acting.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Jesus offers us another angle on paying taxes when the Pharisees challenge him.

“‘Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'”

Matthew 22:17-21 (ESV)

Jesus confirms Paul’s words (perhaps the other way around), but as usual, he goes even further. Have you ever stopped and really thought about that phrase before? “…to God the things that are God’s.” That’s the real kicker. Not only should we offer up our taxes to the government, but we should offer up ourselves to God. He rightfully purchased us on the cross. We owe him our time, our money, and our lives. That’s a tall order.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

It is a far higher and more difficult calling to give God the things that are God’s than to give Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Yet the Pharisees saw it the other way around. They were shocked Jesus would support this tax. They hated their government, and for good reason. This brings us to another point. Should Christians pay taxes to corrupt governments committing evil acts?

“If Christians can support Rome, what government could they not support? This is the government that killed Christ and almost all the apostles. And here Jesus is telling them, pay for it. Pay that tax that is going to pay the salary of the very men who are about to drive the nails into My hands, not because what they are doing is right, but because government reflects the character of God. God will deal with them.”1

Mark Dever

The key principle here is not about where your money eventually goes, but about respecting the role of government as God has laid it out. Our role is obedience. It’s not ultimately up to the church to keep authorities accountable. It’s up to God.

Does this mean we should never try to improve our government or work to prevent evil from being committed with our tax dollars? No. There’s absolutely a time and a place for making a positive difference, especially in America where we have the privilege to participate in our government. Some of us are called to be godly missionaries, some to be godly office workers, and others to be godly civil servants. My goal is not to dissuade anyone from upholding justice or acting according to their convictions. My goal is to make it undeniably clear that Jesus instructed his followers to pay a tax to their tyrannical ruler and to give themselves up to their glorious Creator.

Let me know your thoughts about taxes in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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  1. Mark Dever, God and Politics: Jesus’ Vision for Society, State and Government (Leyland, England: 10Publishing, 2016), 27.

Heavenly Minded, Earthly Commissioned

As I’ve been teaching a Sunday School class on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I’ve noticed that he and I have a lot in common. He pursued a greater understanding of theology, yet continually felt that head-knowledge wasn’t enough. He was disgusted at American churches with their love for liberal Christianity, social relevance, and conformity to the world. He wasn’t scared to criticize his contemporaries or entertain radical new ideas. He believed love was well worth the risks it brought and the fear of loss. He had bouts of depression. He could be rather intense at times and felt that some people were put off by him.

But what we’re going to address today is his view that the Christian life is so much more than going to church, reading motivational books, and putting on a good face. He believed the Christian is called to take their faith out of church and into the world.

“In Jesus Christ the reality of God has entered into the reality of this world. The place where the questions about the reality of God and about the reality of the world are answered at the same time is characterized solely by the name: Jesus Christ. God and the world are enclosed in this name. . . . we cannot speak rightly of either God or the world without speaking of Jesus Christ. All concepts of reality that ignore Jesus Christ are abstractions.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We start with the fabric of reality itself. Bonhoeffer believed the incarnation of Christ supports the framework of one reality. To speak of “the world” as if it’s some foreign realm isolated from Christianity is not accurate. Christ came to the world. We are in the world. We’re not called to Paradise just yet. We ought to live to fulfill our earthly commission rather than wait around for the second coming.

“As long as Christ and the world are conceived as two realms bumping against and repelling each other, we are left with only the following options. Giving up on reality as a whole, either we place ourselves in one of the two realms, wanting Christ without the world or the world without Christ—and in both cases we deceive ourselves”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So many people gravitate to the extremes. For some, this means love of the world at the expense of their walk with Christ. They can’t get over their habits. They can’t reject addiction. They can’t break off their relationship with materialism, pride, and selfishness. They might be heard saying things like “Don’t judge,” “Nobody is perfect,” or “I’m not into legalism.”

For others, they love their “Christian” life more than their “real” life. They just want emotional spirituality without having to worry about getting their hands dirty. They ignore the fate of their unbelieving friends in the name of keeping themselves “pure.” They scoff at certain activities, labeling them “worldly” so they can rally behind others in ostracizing those who practice them. They might be heard saying things like, “Don’t be conformed to the world,” “I can’t stand people like that,” or “I’m trying to be more heavenly minded.”

“There are not two realities, but only one reality, and that is God’s reality revealed in Christ in the reality of the world. Partaking in Christ, we stand at the same time in the reality of God and in the reality of the world. The reality of Christ embraces the reality of the world in itself. The world has no reality of its own independent of God’s revelation in Christ. . . . [T]he theme of two realms, which has dominated the history of the church again and again, is foreign to the New Testament.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As the YouTube channel Blimey Cow once said, “Your real life is your spiritual life, and both are going to be awful until you realize that they’re not separate things.” Obsessing over Christian culture and religion to the exclusion of obedient action for Christ is sin. Obsessing over the world and amusement to the exclusion of obedient action for Christ is sin. It boils down to the object of your worship. God doesn’t care what it is; if it’s lower than him, it has to go.

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”

John 17:15-19 (ESV)

Here, we witness our Lord and Savior speaking to the Father. He prays that we are kept from sin, sanctified in God’s truth. Yet he also says we are sent into the world. Here, the two realities meet in perfect harmony. We are in the world, yet not of the world. Perhaps even this phrase requires some deconstruction, as David Mathis proposes. Ultimately, we ought to imitate Christ in our actions, pursuing truth and holiness. This should lead us towards the world, not away from it. We should see the broken chaos around us and feel a deep desire to be the hands and feet of Christ to those among it. We should step out in faith, without fear.

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

James 1:25 (ESV)

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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The American Christian’s Idol of Freedom

This week’s post will be shorter, as I’m busy with a few things at the moment, one of which is teaching a Sunday School class at my church about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was killed for his involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler. As I’ve read about this fascinating figure, I’ve grown to fall in love with his approach to theology, his unwavering commitment to Christ, and his demand for action on behalf of faith.

Before Hitler rose to power, Bonhoeffer visited America. The land of the free impressed upon him a number of contemplations. Here is one.

“Freedom as a possession is a doubtful thing for a church; freedom must be won under the compulsion of a necessity. Freedom for the church comes from the necessity of the Word of God. Otherwise it becomes arbitrariness and ends in a great many new ties. Whether the church in America is really ‘free,’ I doubt. They are lonely Sundays over here. Only the Word makes a true community.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What I take from this is that Bonhoeffer was annoyed at how highly American churches valued the ethereal concept of “freedom.” The term carries with it the weight and potential of nationalism, for one. Such ties are not of Christ and can only lead away from the truth. As Americans, it’s all too easy to feel a holy sense of entitlement to freedom. But as Christians, the only freedom we are promised is freedom in Christ from the bondage of sin.

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'”

John 8:31-32, 36 (ESV)

We can see that we’re offered spiritual freedom in Christ, but what does the Bible say about physical freedom? It’s important to remember our identity. To think of ourselves as “Americans” is earthly and temporary. We are truly citizens of the kingdom of heaven (Phil 3:20), and Christ tells us what to expect.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”

John 15:18-20 (ESV)

The idea that American Christians deserve physical freedom is undoubtedly extra-biblical. We are promised opposition, not freedom. We are promised God’s loving discipline and the shaping of character through hardships of all kinds, not comfort or safety.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33b (ESV)

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)

It is a trap to pursue earthly freedom above the Word of God. Our chains are not physical. Many a red-blooded American lies upon their bed this night as free as any man has been in a thousand years on this earth, yet bound ever tighter to their pride, their lust, their gluttony, their greed, their adultery.

Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and hanged for his part in the conspiracy against Hitler. This is what was said of him at his end.

“I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

H. Fischer-Hüllstrung

When he saw the path God set before him, Bonhoeffer gave up his high status in Germany, his reputation in the church, and his personal safety to do what had to be done. He valued his usefulness to God far above his earthly freedom. Yet he was free.

Choose this day to look down at your wrists and see the cuffs keeping you captive. Back away from the bars and see just how small your cell is. Our only hope is to open our eyes to our sin and repent, lest we be lulled into a slumber where our flesh keeps us tied to the depths of hell.

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.”

Romans 6:6-7 (ESV)

Let me know your thoughts on Bonhoeffer in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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The Insanity of the Pro-Choice Agenda

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

In two days, a bill called the “Women’s Health Protection Act” will go to a vote in the US Senate. Sounds pretty great, right? Shockingly enough, this bill has nothing at all to do with protecting health. It’s specifically designed to guarantee immunity for murder. And don’t worry, there’s a nice helping of virtue signaling in there as well.

The pro-abortion act was passed by the House of Representatives last September. It came shortly after Texas implemented new restrictions on abortion. With a pro-life majority on the Supreme Court, which declined to interfere with the Texas law, there’s real hope that Roe v. Wade might be overturned in June of this year. The death cult is scared, but they aren’t going down without a fight. Even though it’s expected not to make it past the Senate, this new bill is a perfect representation of just how insane the “pro-choice” agenda has become in 2022.

Don’t take my word for it. I encourage you to read through the act in its entirety here. I will be referring to specific sections to give you the highlights. Let’s begin.

Abortion services are essential to health care and access to those services is central to people’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States.1

In the span of one sentence, murder has been justified not only as “health care,” but as a key component of equality. This is blatant propaganda of Orwellian proportions. It borders on an eliminationist mockery of feminism, declaring that women can only truly be equal with men when they offer up their children to be slaughtered in cold blood. If you believe all people are created equal, as is stated in our Declaration of Independence, it’s impossible to propose that women are lesser without the freedom to murder their offspring; it’s beyond any shred of reason to simultaneously hold that the worth of a child’s life is dependent on whether he or she is wanted.

Reproductive Justice is a human right that can and will be achieved when all people… have the economic, social, and political power and resources to define and make decisions about their bodies, health, sexuality, families, and communities in all areas of their lives, with dignity and self-determination.2

Ah yes, it wouldn’t be a leftist propaganda piece without some good old social justice. Not only do they frame murder as a tenet of feminism and equality, but now they have the audacity to invent a phrase to get the idea across that they’re really, definitely the good guys here. After all, who could disagree with justice?

The funny thing is that in avoiding the question, they beg another more gruesome one. They claim abortion is about granting people the power to make decisions about their bodies. Rather than address whether or not abortion is murder, they insist that this is only about the power of the individual. They miss the point entirely by pretending unborn children are only organs of the mother, but what’s worse are the implications. They specify families and communities here. Are they insinuating that mothers have the right to slice through their relatives and neighbors until the world is to their liking? They would say no, I’m sure. But the language is pretty damning. Perhaps they should hire proofreaders.

Pro-Life is Racist?

Reproductive justice seeks to address restrictions on reproductive health, including abortion, that perpetuate systems of oppression… white supremacy, and anti-Black racism. This violent legacy has manifested in policies including enslavement, rape, and experimentation on Black women; forced sterilizations; medical experimentation on low-income women’s reproductive systems; and the forcible removal of Indigenous children. Access to… abortion services, has always been deficient in the United States for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC).3

Whew, that’s a lot of desperation in a single paragraph. You can almost see them begging at the feet of minorities to approve of their violent crusade. This paragraph, like many others, was entirely unnecessary for “abortion rights” to be preserved as a result of this bill. They chose to add it for political reasons. They couldn’t just advocate for murder. They had to imply that anyone opposing their bloody tirade is a racist complicit in rape, slavery, and forced sterilization.

Let’s take a look at the logic for a moment. The claim? Restrictions on abortion perpetuate racism. The evidence? “Policies including enslavement, rape, and experimentation on Black women…” The list goes on. None of these “policies” exist today. By their own admission, they’re trying to fix something that isn’t broken. It’s all empty ramblings. The only thing in this list that’s somewhat relevant today in America is the “forcible removal of Indigenous children.” In a stunning turn of events, they’ve suddenly decided to defend the rights of young ones, but only if they’re brown and only to exploit their existence for political clout. If that isn’t the very definition of racism, I don’t know what is. This is not to mention that even with control over the House and the presidency, Democrats still haven’t done anything to reverse the “kids in cages” problem at the border that has existed since the Obama era. The hypocrisy is pungent.

Lastly, they claim that access to abortion has “always been deficient” for minorities in the US. This is simply not true. Let’s take a look at this infographic by the pro-abortion group, Guttmacher Institute.

They claim there’s a horrible problem with income inequality, racism, and discrimination as it relates to abortion. Then they show us the data. As it turns out, white women have the fewest abortions per capita! Minorities have far more abortions. It doesn’t seem like they’re having much trouble finding people to kill their babies for them, even assuming they have less access to necessary funds and available clinics.

Now, I’m not ignorant of their intentions here. They don’t want you to look at the number of abortions per capita. They want you to notice that the rate of decline over time is slowest for white people. Their hypothesis is that the boogeyman of “systematic racism” is somehow cutting off access to abortion (and/or birth control) for minorities. They couldn’t imagine any other alternative, least of all that minorities are just choosing to have fewer abortions for personal reasons. Culture isn’t homogeneous and attributing an effect to a cause without evidence is bad science.

The legacy of restrictions on reproductive health, rights, and justice is not a dated vestige of a dark history. Presently, the harms of abortion-specific restrictions fall especially heavily on people with low incomes, BIPOC, immigrants, young people, people with disabilities, and those living in rural… areas.4

Ah, it seems they anticipated my objection that the evils they wrongfully attribute to pro-lifers are irrelevant to modern times. Unfortunately, they’ve forgotten to list any evidence. What a shame. We only get more empty words.

Don’t Forget Trans People!

The terms “woman” and “women” are used in this bill to reflect the identity of the majority of people targeted and affected by restrictions on abortion services… which are rooted in misogyny. However, access to abortion services is critical to the health of every person capable of becoming pregnant. This Act is intended to protect all people with the capacity for pregnancy—cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, those who identify with a different gender, and others.5

That’s right. They have to satisfy every possible gender-obsessed group they can think of. That includes trans people. But the funny thing is, in appealing to a tiny minority of their audience, they alienate the vast majority. Women are getting tired of confused men intruding on their spaces and identity, removing femininity from language and culture in favor of politically correct androgyny. What ever happened to feminism?

It reminds me of what happened to J.K. Rowling. She preached feminism for years and was loved by the left. When she saw the insanity of the trans movement, she stood by real women in refusing to change her language or her beliefs. She’s since been canceled by the very people who once championed her cause. These days, it’s not enough to be liberal. It’s not enough to be feminist. It’s not enough to advocate for abortion. You have to say men are women. Men can get pregnant. Men can be oppressed by abortion restrictions. I’m again reminded of Orwell’s 1984. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Here are a couple more quotes that stood out to me. “Abortion is essential health care and one of the safest medical procedures in the United States.”6 Murder is safe and essential? Makes sense to me! “International human rights law recognizes that access to abortion is intrinsically linked to the rights to life, health, equality and non-discrimination, privacy, and freedom from ill-treatment.”7 Abortion is linked to the right to life? That’s the saddest thing I’ve heard all day. Also, pro-lifers are apparently anti-privacy now. I wasn’t aware of that one.

Conclusion

I know I’m not changing anyone’s mind with this post. Those of you who support abortion probably can’t stand me. I’m comfortable with that. Those of you who are against abortion probably agree with me. My goal today was not to provide some amazing new insight on abortion itself. My goal was to highlight just how nuts this “pro-choice” movement has become in recent years, to reveal their true agenda. It’s not just about abortion anymore. It’s about changing language to accommodate insane mental gymnastics. It’s about attaching any and all oppression, past and present, to conservatives. It’s about elevating men who wish they were women above actual women.

Do you still think this is about “women’s health?”

Leave your answer in the comments below. Enter your email if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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  1. Section 2, (a), (1) of the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021, H. R. 3755, 117th Cong. (2021)
  2. IBID, Section 2, (a), (4)
  3. IBID, Section 2, (a), (5)
  4. IBID, Section 2, (a), (6)
  5. IBID, Section 2, (a), (8)
  6. IBID, Section 2, (a), (11)
  7. IBID, Section 2, (a), (16)

China’s Influence on Hollywood

If you keep up with the goings-on of the internet, you’ll no doubt have heard about John Cena’s transformation from a modern Chuck Norris into a groveling mess at the feet of communists. Last year, as part of an interview promoting Fast & Furious 9, he said (in Mandarin) that Taiwan would be the first country to see the film.1 China does not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country, but as a part of China itself. Realizing his mistake in the eyes of Chinese audiences, Cena then posted a video on the social media platform Weibo to apologize. What ensued was a flurry of articles and a blizzard of memes.

One of America’s poster boys for masculinity and success had kowtowed to communist lies. What happened? If it wasn’t obvious already, the answer is money. It usually is. Many American movies make significant profits in China, but the Fast & Furious series is more popular than ever. Fast & Furious 9 ended up making over $40 million more in China than America. Whether he was approached by Universal, a Chinese official, or nobody at all, Cena knew his best chance to continue making the big bucks in Hollywood was to smooth things over and keep his largest source of income happy.

Money Money Money

This has become a growing trend. From the NBA to Tiktok celebrities, Americans are bending over backwards to make money off the Chinese market. They’re all too willing to step in line for a slice of the pie. But why is this? And what can be done about it?

In a capitalist economy, there’s a profit motive for work. This is a good thing. It harnesses humanity’s selfish desires to innovate and create value for society. Check out this post for more on that topic. But what happens when there’s money to be made overseas? This complicates things. All of the sudden, you’re faced with an interconnected global market instead of one isolated in America. You can save money by outsourcing labor to areas of the world where people will gladly work for less. You have to consider foreign policy and what’s allowed to be shipped across the borders of each nation. And you can’t ignore that more people out there might want to buy what you’re selling.

Part of a businessman’s job is to find out who wants his product. Only then will his effort be worthwhile. Unfortunately, one of the largest markets in the world just so happens to be under strict communist rule. China is overrun with state surveillance, policy indifferent to human rights, and all kinds of overbearing authoritarianism. Most of the population is hopelessly indoctrinated by the government and ignorant of their lack of rights. How do you market to a nation like that?

As it turns out, the only way to get to the Chinese people is by satisfying the Chinese government first. If you don’t, your product is subject to censorship or outright rejection. You lose out on all that potential profit. Businessmen don’t want that, so they compromise and tailor their product until it passes under the scrutiny of the state. It only makes sense when your goal is profit.

The Problem

What, if anything, can be done about this? Is it even a problem? In one sense, it is. We have an instinctual reaction whenever we see someone obviously forgoing their commitment to character for the sake of cold hard cash. We don’t like it when people “sell out.” Why is this? Because deep down, nearly everyone recognizes the value of integrity. We know there are truths we cannot abandon, history that must be respected, and principles we ought to live by.

Seeing a person we trust cast aside their integrity, ignore truth, deny history, and reveal a lack of principles is like being stabbed in the back. It feels wrong. They were supposed to stick to their guns. We trusted them and they’re now using and abusing our trust so they can maintain a high standard of living. It seems so hollow and soulless.

Yet that’s exactly what John Cena did. He repeated lies and bended the knee to a horrible government just to win over the people of China. Was it worth it? Here lies the crucial detail. Even with a global economy, the oppression of the Chinese government, and businessmen all too eager to appeal to their corruption, one bastion of freedom remains: the public opinion.

People’s Choice

Don’t get me wrong. I hate cancel culture. It’s a toxic machine of insane witch-hunting perpetuated by misinformation and exploited for political gain by social media companies. But ignoring that for just a moment, we have to consider the real-world implications of catering to a communist state. Sure, you get to share in the profits of the Chinese market, but at what cost? John Cena’s reputation has taken a sharp nosedive in America since last year. And remember, his actions weren’t rumor or hearsay. Everything about it was public. It was just announced that he would be starring in a new Looney Tunes movie, and already I’ve seen many people bring up his Fast & Furious incident.

This is what gives me hope. As long as we still have free markets where people have a say in who they give their business, businessmen will be forced to consider them in the products they create. Celebrities will have to be careful how they present themselves. If they make the choice to cater to communism, leaving truth and justice behind, they’ll eventually lose the respect and the money of free nations.

I know that sounds idealistic. In reality, there are plenty of Americans willing to put up with morally bankrupt actors so they can laugh at their favorite comedies in willfully ignorant bliss. But even this is not the end of the world. After all, capitalism isn’t supposed to measure and reward morality. Putting that kind of responsibility on human leaders would be disastrous. Instead, it’s supposed to balance between selfish greed and harmful corruption by letting the people choose who they support. Nobody is immune to the court of public opinion.

So if everything is basically operating as usual, what can we do? Well, firstly, we can boycott businesses we disagree with. Vote with your wallet. In enough numbers, angry laymen have the power to radically alter the market. The less we put up with people like Cena, the less we’ll see of them. But even more importantly, pay attention to your government. Watch the ballot for legislation infringing on free speech and then vote against it when it rears its ugly head. Refuse to believe everything your TV tells you. Look into what your government is doing so you can be an informed citizen. Arming yourself with the truth is the only way to see corruption coming. Don’t let America become the next China.

Leave a comment if you have thoughts about all this. Enter your email below if you want to be notified when my next post goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.

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  1. Daniel Van Boom, “John Cena’s China apology: What you need to know,” CNET, May 26, 2021, https://www.cnet.com/news/john-cenas-apology-to-china-everything-you-need-to-know/