The Culture of Jesus – It Matters

Culture. You hear this term a lot, especially lately. The culture of a country, a police department, a business, a church, a family, a sports team, etc.

I understand this term to mean the collective mindset, personality and approach of a particular group.

Here’s a great quote I found about church culture:

Culture is the most crucial component of the church. If a good steak is the vision, then the plate on which it is served is the culture. If the plate is dirty then the steak (vision) is devalued. From churchexecutive.com

Culture matters. Mindset matters. The approach a group takes to handling a problem matters. This is not just a buzz phrase found on the news cycle or in a business manual. Look in the Scripture to see how Jesus or Paul addressed the collective mindset of a congregation.

Culture matters to Jesus. Did the collective mindset and approach of a group matter to God? Look at Revelation 2-3. What was the general mindset in Ephesus? A lack of love. How about Laodicea? Arrogance, materialism and self-sufficiency. You can see how Paul spoke to churches at Corinth, Philippi and Thessalonica about the culture and personality of each congregation.

The mindset of an individual is important, but so is the group mindset. An individual can pile up good works, but lack love, so it profits nothing (1 Corinthians 13). A church can also pile up good works, like Ephesus, but not have the love as they should, and Jesus will not be among them (Revelation 2:5).

Culture matters to Jesus. How we think and approach things as a group is very important to Jesus.

Anatomy of Trust, part 3

In last Friday’s article, we began to develop the components of the Anatomy of Trust: common ground, humility, vulnerability, accountability, and consistency. Today’s article will focus on the last two items: accountability and consistency.

Trust is vital to any relationship, what do we have without it?

Accountability

Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). 

I can have all the best intentions in the world, and can make goals and pray for God to help me accomplish those goals. But unless I make myself completely vulnerable and transparent to a godly and trusted friend, then my plans will simply be plans and wishes. I must commit these things that are in my heart to a trusted friend who can lovingly hold my feet to the fire, and then the goals and intentions will begin to translate into real action and effective change.

You need a friend who will ask you the questions you don’t want him to ask. If the person you have chosen to hold you accountable doesn’t have the fortitude to probe into those uncomfortable places, then you need to find someone else…it is as simple as that. Flip that around, if you want to be a true friend to your brothers in Christ, then you have to sometimes make them uncomfortable. We are to “consider how to stimulate” each other to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)5). If they are truly seeking Christ, they will thank you for it (Proverbs 1:5; 9:9).

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6).

Consistency

How do you build a reputation? Consistent, repeated behavior over time. How do you develop a reputation for being on time? How do you build a reputation for being a calm person in the midst of chaos? Consistent, repeated behavior over time.  Reflect on the following statement of the apostle Paul regarding Timothy.

Philippians 2:19-22 – But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.

Timothy had “proven” character (Phil. 2:22). The men appointed by the apostles to care for the widows were to be of “good reputation” (Acts 6:3). Those who serve as elders (shepherds, overseers) in the churches were to be of “good reputation” (1 Timothy 3:7). Likewise, the men who are appointed as deacons in the churches must first be “tested,” according to Paul (1 Tim. 3:10). Kobe Bryant or LeBron James did not become the legends they are by making one lucky shot. There really is no substitute for demonstrating over time that your behavior matches your claim.

Consistent, repeated behavior over time. That solidifies trust.

Anatomy of Trust, part 2

In yesterday’s article, we introduced the concept of the Anatomy of Trust. Today we will begin to develop the components of trust: common ground, humility, vulnerability, accountability, and consistency.

Common ground

In order to have trust, we have to have a starting point. Now you and I don’t have to be Christians in order for us to trust each other. We have friends, co-workers, etc, that we fully trust even though we do not share the same belief systems. But I’m sure that in all of those relationships there is some common ground we share. God asked a great question in Amos, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?”

As Christians, that foundation has already been laid down for us. We are all to be rooted in Christ and take His very mindset as our own (Phil. 2:2). With that as our starting point, we then can look at each other through the same lenses and begin to build trust for each other. We are all sinners in need of the grace and mercy of Jesus.

Humility

This mindset of Christ is saturated with humility, because that is the attitude He displayed coming to earth (Phil. 2:5). Jesus, being God, humbled Himself and became a slave to others, even to the point of crucifixion.

But how does that apply to trust? If I think I’m above you, I will expect you to trust me no matter what I do or say. If I am lifted up with pride, I will get loud and defensive if you dare to question me. Do you want people to trust you? Then you must “with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).

Vulnerability

Jesus made Himself of no reputation (Phil. 2:7). I don’t think you can get more vulnerable and exposed than Jesus did hanging on the cross.

My good friend, Andy Harrison, shared the following observation with me. Think of how the Bible was written; we have the most embarrassing details and failures of people recorded on paper for billions of people to read for thousands of years! Noah got drunk and naked, Lot slept with his own daughters, Moses committed murder, and David broke most of the 10 commandments! So really, you think you have something to hide?

Why do we fail to build trust? Because we do not want to open our hearts to others for a number of reasons. It may be that we just don’t want someone to discover all our skeletons in the closet. It may be that we want to maintain our “perfect image.” It may be that we have opened our hearts to people before and we got burned.

But without being vulnerable and transparent, then you and I cannot build a relationship of trust. Paul told the Corinthians that his heart was “wide open” to them, and he asked them to do the same thing for him (2 Cor. 6:11-13; 7:2). He wrote to the Thessalonians that he not only imparted the gospel to them, but he imparted his life to them also (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Pray for God to lead you to a fellow Christian man to whom you can bare your soul and develop a strong bond of trust.

Next Friday, we will cover the final two parts of the Anatomy of Trust:

Accountability and Consistency

 

Anatomy of Trust, part 1

What is the anatomy of trust? If you were to take trust and look at the internal organs, nervous system and skeletal framework, what would you discover? What makes up trust? What items are absolutely essential to trust?

Take a minute to meditate upon these 2 statements and finish them with whatever comes to mind:

  1. If I trust you…
  2. If I do not trust you…

So, contemplating these two statements, how vital is trust to any relationship? Since this is Thursday, we will focus our thoughts on trust in our relationships with people at work, school and in the community, but obviously trust is critical to any relationship.  Think about it, what kind of relationship do you have with anyone without trust?

“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19).

A bad tooth causes continual pain and misery, you can’t bite or chew food on that side of your mouth because it kills you to put pressure on it. The same with the foot out of joint, you can’t put pressure on it, because it will not hold the weight of your body and you will collapse. This simple word picture by Solomon perfectly illustrates that trust must be in a relationship, especially in “time of trouble.” Who do you want beside you in time of trouble? Who do you want as your partner, fellow worker or teammate when the pressure is on? You know it…somebody you can count on.

So, turn this thought internally and reflect upon whether you are the person who can be counted on in time of trouble. Are you that man others can trust? Do you come on time? Do you finish what you start? Do you give your all to the task at hand? Do you keep your word when you commit to something? Do you stick with it even when the pressure is on?

Finally, if I want people to trust me, what would be necessary for me to build that trust in others? Here are the bones and organs that I believe are the anatomy of trust: common ground, humility, vulnerability, accountability, and consistency.

These will be developed further in tomorrow’s article.