What This Religion of Enoughness has Done to Our Culture (It’s Not Just Our Souls Which Have Grown Numb)

The respected thinker Malcolm Gladwell posits:

“I always wonder whether what we’re seeing is the consequence of a retreat from religiosity and spirituality in our society. If in a space of two generations you remove the centrality of that set of ideas, you’re going to pay a price. There’s going to be a consequence.

“If you don’t have the reinforcement of religious practice saying that you have a moral obligation to take care of the poor and suffering, or to remind you that you need to be humble in the eyes of God, maybe people become a lot less respectful of others, or people become a lot less cautious and humble about putting forth their own opinions.”  –Malcolm Gladwell, Relevant Magazine, September-October 2019

We are living in those consequences, aren’t we? Our world is a divided atmosphere where there is little grace to share an opinion anywhere. To get through it is best we are milquetoast with our discussions no matter who we are surrounding ourselves with. (Lukewarmness should feel yucky every time to a Christian living with the convictions of the Holy Spirit.) We are spending money to build higher fences and stronger security systems. With front porches being replaced by backyard decks (and building higher fences on those decks). Our debt consumes us and causes us to make financial decisions we don’t like and live a persona we don’t like either. How often do you lie to get out of an expensive restaurant invite because you can’t afford the restaurant? When you got into the debt because you believed you had to keep up to keep those friends who invited you to that restaurant. This religion of Enoughness strangles our identity. Takes away our freedom. Bullies us out of bravery.

And who is telling us we have the moral obligation to take care of the poor and suffering? Or to be simply respectful to others? Peer pressure is applied strongly here but how fleeting is that? Does a conviction formed by the culture around you become something that causes you to make hard decisions for your life? Especially when no one is looking?

The world has never been such a scary place to live (at least my perspective). At the same time, loneliness is also on the rise. Every stat confirms this. You would think that if we are grouping with like-minded people bonded by personal beliefs that there would be less loneliness. That these like-minded people could truly know us. Not so. Because the religion of Enoughness strangles our identity. Takes away our freedom. Bullies us out of bravery.

Shame survives by convincing you that you are alone.

Dr. Brene’ Brown found in her research (research!),

Huddled behind the bunkers, we don’t have to worry about being vulnerable or brave or trusting. We just have to toe the party line. Except doing that is not working. Idealogical bunkers protect us from everything except loneliness and disconnection. In other words, we’re not protected from the worst heartbreaks of all.  –Dr. Brene’ Brown, Braving the Wilderness, P. 59

We live in a broken-hearted world. With people reacting to their pain in painful ways.

From more of that research: 

When we are in pain and fear, anger and hate are our go-to emotions. Almost everyone I’ve ever interviewed or known will tell you that it’s easier to be pissed off than it is to be hurt or scared.   –Dr. Brene’ Brown, Braving the Wilderness, p.65

(Who did you just think of when you read that?)

So I have to fight my decisions to not to live numbed. Culture numbs everything. Spend! Drink! Shop! Be someone else on social media!

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

What a countercultural message! That message sweeps over our stressed, lonely, and broke self to give us pause and wonder if there is a different way.

If only we can hear this message of Jesus.

That is up to me. I choose to speak this message through the local church and through your local church when I come speak. This is my message in response to my culture. I believe in a big God of possibilities.

How does Jesus give you rest? By being your Savior so you don’t have to save yourself. So you don’t have to prove yourself. So you don’t have to contort yourself.

‘Stop at the crossroads and look around.  Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.  Travel its path and you will find rest for your souls.’  But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’  Jeremiah 6:16

I’m asking for the old, godly way when Church had an influence on this culture. The Church failed mightily with that responsibility of influence but what we have now is destroying our souls. Even the souls of those who would never ever go to church.

There is the way of Jesus that turns the world upside down which also grants peace that our souls crave and can’t define.

This is my prayer. This is a brave prayer.

Jesus, come save the world with your countercultural way.
I have no idea what that looks like.
I will have no expectations.
I just know that something has got to change
                And you promise us rest.
                And you promise never leave us or forsake us as the world becomes a lonelier place.
Jesus, come save the world with your countercultural way.
Amen.

May these words haunt you, brave one. May this prayer be prayed by you too. Something has got to change.

We started in such darkness. I must end in light.

(photo credit: Pexels.com)