In her new book, author and apologist Alisa Childers targets the lies that often masquerade as cultural proverbs today. In Live Your Truth and Other Lies: Exposing Popular Deceptions That Make Us Anxious, Exhausted, and Self-Obsessed, Childers offers just what the title promises. She exposes the bad ideas at the center of slogans we hear all the time. You can receive a copy of the book with a gift of any amount to the Colson Center this month. Just go to colsoncenter.org/august.
Though the mantras that dominate our world can seem harmless, they are not. “Our culture,” Childers writes,
is brimming with slogans that promise peace, fulfillment, freedom, empowerment, and hope. These messages have become such an integral component of our American consciousness that many people don’t even think to question them. … The problem? They are lies.
In fact, Childers argues, slogans like “You are enough,” “authenticity is everything,” “Put yourself first,” “It’s all about love,” or “God just wants you to be happy,” commonly redefine words like love and hate and happy. What’s left is a modern-day “tower of Babel” (or “Babble”) situation where those with the most social media followers are granted authority and assumed to have expertise on life and how to live it.
At the root of these destructive slogans is a view of the self. For example, Childers cites Glennon Doyle, whose New York Times No. 1 best seller Untamed centers around her decision to leave her husband for a woman she saw at a local zoo, all while quoting Carl Jung: “There is no greater burden on a child than the unlived life of a parent.”
Alisa compares Doyle’s story with that of Elisabeth Elliot, the missionary famous for bringing the Gospel back to the same Waodani people who killed her husband, Jim. With a toddler in tow, Elliot lived in the Waodani village for two years before returning to the United States to speak, write, and appear publicly with some of her husband’s killers who had become dedicated followers of Jesus:
Elisabeth Elliot laid hold of deeper strength. … She rejected the urge to defy God’s Word or redefine his holiness. … How did she do it? She once wrote, “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”
Childers openly admits to struggling with these ideas, including what it means to be truly authentic, during her time as a popular and successful Christian musician:
[A] therapist I began seeing toward the end of ZOEgirl’s run (who had the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job) looked at me intently and gently asked, “What if you got throat cancer and could never sing again?” I was dumbstruck. She had stumped me. After all, I was made to sing, and if I couldn’t sing, who was I?
That question pushed Alisa away from the shallow definition of authenticity that is widely embraced today, and toward a deeper grounding in the truth of who we are—made in the image of God, and yet fallen. This makes all the difference in how we think about ourselves and how we choose to live life:
Today I write. Maybe tomorrow I will wash feet, clean toilets, or start a food blog. God knows. He is trustworthy. My identity is grounded in him. True biblical authenticity is glorifying Christ with whatever gifts and talents he has given me. As my friend Teasi says, this is my calling whether I find myself in a palace or in a prison.
Another commonly repeated, highly consequential lie is that there’s such a thing as “your truth” and “my truth”:
Christian, your truth doesn’t exist. Your truth won’t bring hope or save anyone. … The Cross is the answer to every lie that tells me I can find everything I need inside myself. … The Cross is not just a symbol of salvation. It’s a place of rest.
This Breakpoint was co-authored by Kasey Leander. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
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