Understanding the Truth in a Culture of Conflicting Messages
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2012 1 Jan
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Ravi Zacharias' book, Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality, (Faith Words, 2012).
American culture mass-markets a generic brand of spirituality which claims that all religions are basically the same, and that a relationship with Jesus is just one option among many different ways to connect with God.
Yet Jesus declares that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to God apart from Him. Although Jesus’ message can be hard to hear above the loud noise of our culture’s spiritual philosophies, Jesus remains unique, and a embracing a relationship with Him is the only true way to connect with God.
Here’s how you can clear away the fog of mass-marketed spirituality around you and find true life for your spirit in Jesus:
Consider how the “new spirituality” that’s currently popular differs from the historical spirituality of biblical Christianity. They differ in authority because new spirituality says that you have the authority to determine what’s best for you, while biblical Christianity says that the church holds spiritual authority. They differ in worship because new spirituality says that you define how and what to worship, while biblical Christianity says that worship should be a way to engage with Jesus in the ways He leads you to relate to Him. They differ about the path to God because new spirituality says that you can choose any type of path and still end up close to God, while biblical Christianity says that only one path will truly lead you to God: walking with Jesus Christ. They differ about what’s sacred, because new spirituality says that anything goes when you’re trying to live a holy life and therefore you can consider anything to be sacred, but biblical Christianity says that there are sinful parts of this fallen world and human nature that must be denied, sublimated, or transcended. Finally, they differ about the nature of truth, because new spirituality says that truth is constantly changing as you grow, so you never quite arrive at truth, while biblical Christianity says that truth is constant and knowable, leading you to real answers to your spiritual questions.
Realize the limits of a religion that revolves around you. The new spirituality that the culture pushes is one that urges you to try to find peace by looking inward at yourself rather than outward at God. According to the new spirituality, deep down, you are God. But you only have to consider how often you struggle with sin (such as pride, greed, and lust) every day to realize that you can’t overcome evil in your own strength. Reflect on how many times you’ve intended to do what’s right, only to end up doing what’s wrong despite your good intentions. Think about how your mistakes and weaknesses affect your life. Recognize that you need a Savior, just like all other human beings in this fallen world that’s full of evil unleashed by sin.
Understand that it’s impossible for all religions to be the same. Although the culture tries to insist that all religions are basically the same at their core, in fact they’re fundamentally different. Any kind of truth, by definition, excludes the denial of what it asserts. The world’s religious doctrines often contradict each other, and Christianity is distinct in that it alone focuses on how God reaches out to people rather than how people can try to reach out to God. Only Jesus is able to truly bridge the distance between a perfect God and sinful people.
Think critically about the spiritual messages that the media presents to you. Don’t just absorb the media’s messages about spiritual matters without thinking them through and discerning what they’re really saying about God and people. Popular public figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra have a lot to say about faith (and about Jesus), but their messages can diverge from the Bible’s message and even from what your conscience tells you is right. Whenever you watch a television show, visit a site online, read a magazine or book, watch a movie, listen to the radio, or engage with popular culture in other ways, carefully consider the messages you receive about spirituality. Pray about those messages, asking God to give you the wisdom to figure what’s true, what’s not, and why that’s so.
Seek a personal God, not an impersonal idea. God has created you to be in a relationship with Him, which is why you have a natural longing for relationships. While the best concept of God that the new spirituality can offer you is a vague idea of an impersonal divine force in the universe, Jesus offers you a personal relationship that connects you directly with God. In fact, it’s through a personal relationship with Jesus that you can discover your personal worth and learn how to live in the way that God intended when He made you in His image.
Understand how the human desires to avoid pain and pursue pleasure ultimately lead you to Jesus. The new spirituality says that you should follow your urges to avoid pain and pursue pleasure, unchecked by any thought of whether or not doing so is truly good for you. Simply following the urges of your fallen human nature will only lead you to discover that it’s impossible to avoid pain in this fallen world, and that selfish pleasure can’t ultimately fulfill you. In contrast, Jesus brings value out of pain that otherwise you’d suffer without meaning, and leads you to true and lasting pleasure. The pain you go through makes you aware of how much you need Jesus in your life, and when you trust Him with your pain, Jesus will use it to accomplish good purposes in your life, such as helping you become a stronger person who knows God’s love better than you did before. Your search for pleasure in life can find no greater destination than a relationship with Jesus Christ that gives you love, forgiveness, hope, peace, and joy.
Get to know the historical Jesus so you can recognize when the culture’s idea of Him doesn’t line up with the facts. The new spirituality presents a mythological concept of Jesus that’s just plain wrong in light of history. Get to know the evidence that supports the Bible’s veracity and its reports about Jesus and His life on Earth. Then you’ll see how Jesus was not just one teacher or spiritual master among many, but God Himself who came into the world to save it.
Adapted from Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality, copyright 2011 by Ravi Zacharias. Published by FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group, New York, NY, www.faithwords.com.
Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional offices in Canada, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
Publication date: January 18, 2011