In studio with me, once again, sitting in for my dad is Executive Producer of the e2 media network, Joel Fieri with Real Stuff My Boss Says.
Now, just like my dad has his “Rod-isms” – pearls of wisdom that he passes on to people, Joel has is own “Joel-isms”, many of which he discusses in The Big Picture Podcast. One of these golden nuggets is the question:
Who really means it?
To be fully transparent, Joel got the phrase from author Mark Steyn in an article that he wrote regarding many of the challenges that our culture faces, including Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, and politically correct leftism. Mark’s idea is that the culture that “means it” eventually wins. Whichever side has the greater commitment to their ideology and are willing to go all out for it will be the worldview that wins.
But it’s more than just bravery.
According to Joel, to “mean it” requires a quiet, cultural confidence – not necessarily confrontational – but the ability to stand firm in our convictions.
So, what’s the big deal? Is today’s Christian culture really being attacked?
Not really, according to Joel. More so, it’s God, Himself. It’s His role as creator and Authority who is larger than us.
It takes a very convicted person to stand up for God. But, lucky for us, He doesn’t need it. He can stand on His own. It’s simply up to us to decide which side of the battle line we will take our place on.
But don’t mistake courageously “meaning it” for passion. You bring your bravery with you, but you don’t let it lead in your activities. Passionate, unbridled courage is like a fire that gets you heated up and gets you going, but it doesn’t lead and direct you. Conviction is what you know. It’s what drives you and directs you, and it drives you even further when fueled by your courage.
But, it’s tough to keep your passion in check. Especially when you see your culture going in a different direction than where you think it should be headed (assuming you think along these lines). But even if you’re not one to stand up and rally for a cultural shift, perhaps you’re concerned about the direction that our nation is headed. If that’s too tall of an order, you are probably concerned about the direction your family, especially the lives of your children are headed.
Either way, it’s the strength of your conviction that will either sustain you in standing your ground or cause you to take a step backward when faced with a challenge to what you believe.
But, is there a point where you stop having a positive influence on your culture and even though you may have the best of intentions and even have the truth on your side, you end up becoming a clanging cymbal instead of an agent of change?
Is it possible to strike a balance between “meaning it” and being filled with conviction and being an effective change agent?
Joel refers to the Bible where it says over and over again that in a room full of darkness, light is going to be offensive, causing people to cringe. The light is going to feel harsh and offend their sensibilities. This doesn’t mean that we should change or dim the light. Actually, we shouldn’t measure the validity of truth by the response that the world offers us. Instead, we should introspectively and constantly do a “compass check” and make sure that we are still lined up with God’s truth.
You see, if we try to make the Word of God attractive to the world, we often unintentionally compromise truth. Do that enough and we’ll lose our ability and credibility to actually stand our ground.
So what does it look like to live like we mean it? Turn on the news and you can see what it looks like when a jihadist lives like he means it. But what about us?
We need to be unwavering. We need to be confident, knowing that what we know is what the world needs – even if they find it offensive. And we need to know that we are on the winning team – God’s team.
We also need to start at home as well as how you behave while no one is watching. We need to take an active role in knowing what it is that our children are being taught. Even to the point of being teachers, ourselves (not necessarily academically, but definitely when it comes to their character). We need to keep our Christian values at the forefront of our minds and our behaviors when it comes to interacting with our neighbors and coworkers. We need to be willing to take a stand and not wait for “the next issue” before we do, lest we condition ourselves to continue to compromise or bury our heads in the sand.
One example of this personal “meaning it” is the value that each of us places on our own integrity. Let’s be honest, each of us has a price. Most of us just haven’t definitively put that price tag on it yet. But, if the $9.50 that it would cost to sneak your child into a movie is the price of your integrity, so be it. If your integrity is actually worth $350, or the price of a Disneyland Annual Pass for your toddler who still look like a baby, there you go. But if your integrity is worth much more than that, then live like it does. Make decisions as if it does.
And keep in mind that these “micro-decisions” in our personal lives do accumulate and reveal the character and values of each of us, our families, our churches, and our culture over time, not just pertaining to integrity, but also social issues, economic issues, and global humanitarian issues.
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