The Summit Lecture Series: Making Sense of Your World with John Stonestreet, Part 11

The Summit Lecture Series: Making Sense of Your World with John Stonestreet, Part 11 September 6, 2016

The Summit Lecture Series Slider

I had the extreme pleasure of doing some speaking engagements in New Zealand. The first time that I spoke there, I had the time of my life. But, my return flight didn’t go as I had expected.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you have a great spiritual experience, but you are also physically exhausted?

I’ve found that when you put these two together, you can quickly lose touch of reality. After having the time of my life, I quickly realized at the Auckland Airport that I was about to spend the next twelve hours of my life in a space half as big as a guy my size requires.

Instantly, I began thinking, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!

So, I squeeze myself into my seat and I begin to talk with the lady next to me. The reason I do this is because I figure that if we’re going to be all snuggled up next to each other for the next twelve hours, we should probably say “hi” first, right?

So, I asked her three questions.

I said “Where you going to?”

“I’m flying to Orlando.”

“Great! What’s in Orlando?”

“I’m going to an Avatar Conference.”

I said, “What’s an Avatar Conference?”

And we were off! Another three hour conversation ensued!

Now, the moral story, I think, is stop talking to strange ladies on airplanes. But it really was fascinating.

She said, “An Avatar Conference teaches you how to find your truth. We all get distracted by people trying to force their views on us, especially all these religious people trying to tell us what to believe. When actually, we have all the truth we need inside of us. We just need to learn how to find it.”

Image: Hope Walls
Image: Hope Walls

I couldn’t resist, so I’m playing the devil’s advocate with her. And we continued to go back and forth. And, of course, the first thing that came to my mind was, “So, the truth is inside you… then, why are you flying halfway around the world to have someone tell you the truth is already inside you? They could send you an email and you could save a couple thousand bucks!”

But, of course, I didn’t say that… I don’t always say the first thing that comes to my mind.

So, I was just going back and forth, playing the devil’s advocate, and she kept saying…

“John, don’t let anyone tell you what’s right and wrong. Just look inside yourself.”

“But, what if I look inside and it’s confusing?”

She said, “Look deeper. You have all the truth inside you. Because, you’re God. And I’m God. That flight attendant is God.”

I was thinking, “If was God, I’d have an exit row seat with more leg room!”

But anyway… it’s really awkward when someone calls you God, too. It kind of stunts the conversation. What you say when someone says that you’re God?


Anyway, she had a worldview. But the problem is that she, like most people, did not think “worldviewishly”. Most people don’t make the connection between ideas and their consequences. We don’t understand where ideas take us.

So, she kept saying, “John, don’t let anyone tell you what’s right or wrong… John, don’t let anyone tell you what’s right and wrong… John, don’t listen to anyone who tells you what’s right and wrong… John, don’t listen to anyone who…”

She essentially was telling me that it would be wrong for me to listen to someone who tells me what’s right and wrong.

She then walked that back and said that it wouldn’t be wrong for me to do this, but that I just shouldn’t do it.

But, let’s imagine that her view was correct and I was determined to look inside for my truth and I look deep inside…  and I determined that what was true and right and good for me is to torture little babies for fun.

The people to seats in front of us quickly turned around! It suddenly got really awkward.

Now, according to what she said so far – that the truth lies within – then, logically, she should answer the question of, “Is torturing babies wrong?” with an absolute “No”.

Instead, she said, “Oh, why do you have to talk in extremes?”

I asked, “Why is that an extreme?”

“Well, you don’t actually believe that.”

“Clearly, I don’t believe that. I believe that there are certain things that are right and certain things that are wrong. My question is, why don’t you believe it?  Because, I pick up the newspaper everyday and read that there are people who think their own pleasure is the highest good and the most important thing in life. And they torture little babies for fun. I think they’re wrong. Do you?”

So, she had a worldview, but she did not think “worldviewishly”.

Which brings me to my next point: Every cultural expression communicates worldview ideas.

Every movie, every TV show, every political speech, every sermon you hear, every commercial, every bumper sticker, every everything… is telling you something about what to believe and how to live.

One of our goals, by the way, here at Summit Ministries, is that you never listen to another song, you never watch another movie, you never listen to another sermon by a preacher, you never listen to another politician give a speech, you never read another book, and you never look at another bumper sticker or billboard without asking yourself, “What is it saying?”

And, hopefully, you won’t be able to turn this stuff off.

In fact, I had one student email me and tell me that he had a great time here at Summit. But, afterward, he was exhausted – he had never thought for two weeks straight before – and so he went out with some friends to veg out and see the movie The War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise.

But, the whole time while he was watching the movie, he kept thinking, “Wait a minute… That’s not true. That’s postmodernism. Wait a minute… that’s Secular Humanism…” He went on to tell me, “Mr. Stonestreet, you ruined my movie! I couldn’t turn it off.”

Then, he went on to say that he was just kidding, it actually made the movie better.

After the movie, he went out with his friends. Then, they started to talk about all this stuff. It was a great conversation. They thought he was a little weird, but it was a great conversation!

My point is: Don’t turn your brain off. If you turn your brain off, somebody else thinks for you. The quickest way to be deceived is to not think. And, if you’re deceived, those ideas will have consequences.

So, here’s the last thing: We need to be intentional to think at the same level of worldviews.

If you are not intentional about your worldview, you will have one. It just won’t be the right one. Many people get their worldview like they get sick – they just catch it like a cold from the culture around them. Whatever is popular or appear “normal” shapes their worldview. But, we do not want you to be a passive recipient of the culture’s worldview. We want you to be intentional.

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