by Dan Janzen
It is a big, ongoing debate. When we consider the situation around the world and the world culture vs. God’s culture, we must be excellent in exposing and unmasking erroneous beliefs or the erroneous beliefs undermine any progress. If a culture is motivated by fear, shame, pride, selfish ambition and extortion, lusts of the eyes (materialism) or lusts of the flesh (immorality) or any other vice of our unrepentant state of being, then no matter how much effort we make in the area of development it will be severely undermined.
I have commonly encountered evidence of cultural relativism that pervades the highest levels of mission agencies. I have actually been told you cannot expose a lie in a culture until you have been there 20 years. If that is the case then should not Paul’s mission journeys and writings be classified as an inappropriate methodology? In addition, I have been told it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict sin and therefore we should just leave that up to the Holy Spirit. Although it is true that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, it does not negate the fact we are called to be shine light in the darkness and to expose sin. “And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? Otherwise, the prophets and early Christian disciple-makers should have stayed home and minded their own business and let the Holy Spirit do the work of evangelism and discipleship.
One of the most common lies is “education is the answer” to development (to everything). However, education is not the answer per se unless it is godly education that includes a foundation of godly character and accountability to that character, particularly for those with a rebellious bent from childhood. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child and the rod of discipline (which teaches accountability to truth) will drive it out” Prov. 22:15. Corruption starts in childhood and it becomes rampant when children are not well disciplined and then later when adults are not held accountable to the truth. A strong-willed child properly disciplined can become the person that with courage will lead the world to replace evil with truth no matter what the cost, fearlessly. Many, if not most of our worst dictators were well educated, but education without discipline (discipleship) allows one to excel at oppressing others.
In the Christian worldview training we do in South Sudan, we encourage people to unmask the lies that “lie” hidden in the culture. And if you are in the Western culture you must do the same to turn back the tide of movement in the direction of underdevelopment. The West, particularly in the inner cities, looks more and more like South Sudan the more it moves away from Biblical principles. It is not at all a “color of the skin” issue but an issue related to the predominance of sin and lies. Immorality, fear, acting on shame instead of confidence from the following truth, lack of trust due to the lack of accountability, pride, the idea of limited good (if someone has earned more than others it is because they extorted something from someone else), coveting, jealousy, revenge, fits of rage and domestic violence, are all common in both contexts. That is why we need a massive extraordinary effort of discipleship in Biblical truth to turn things around. Most of history has found the people losing technology and societies decaying under the burden of sin. Only the extraordinary prayer and extraordinary wholistic spiritual focus of the Reformers and revivalists turned the tide of decay. From their efforts, the common man (not just the aristocracy, nobles, and feudalistic land baron upper class or military) could benefit from technology and the blessing of prosperity. And today in the West we have a diminishing effect of “basking” in that the results of that extraordinary effort of those who went before us.
We teach if you see something that is not contributing to peace, harmony, or human flourishing then you need to ask “why” in regards to the behavior you observe and you will need to rephrase the question several times to get to the root lie to expose it. Exposing lies in the culture accomplishes a couple of purposes. #1 Accountability to the truth for the one who believes the lie. It is part of the path of discipleship to expose the lies. #2 Discovery of lies helps us prioritize our efforts to displace those lies with truth. Once we discover the lies then we can organize our Bible studies and our discipleship efforts to counter them. Are we studying the sections of the Bible most relevant to exposing the lies? Can we get groups together that multiply into other groups (II Tim. 2:2) that are specifically agreeing to target those lies in their Bible studies? Locally we are teaching the 10 Seed Principle ()) as a way to get every individual in a group participating in sorting out what lies or areas of focus are most important. Praying for one another and holding one another accountable to acting on the truth in God’s word (obedience statements that are Specific, Measurable, Applicable, Results-oriented, Time-bound (SMART).
We have been given a unique gift of truth and a mandate to find the way to most strategically shine light in the darkness with that truth. We must become problem solvers and the church must excel at bringing societal issues and needs to resolution instead of expecting the government to solve our problems. Let’s not operate on fear but with confidence knowing that we have access to the Truth.
Everyone who is reading this must ask themselves how we can advance God’s Kingdom-building purposes most strategically using our unique gifts, abilities, talents, education, and work experience. We need you to pray and we need you to consider coming to South Sudan because the work of discipleship needs your devout participation. If you can spare a few moments to participate in discipleship with us, particularly if you have experience with working in inner-city environments, we would like you to consider coming to help. Even if you can devote time (a sacrifice) to doing something online we need you and any skill you have is a skill that is needed here in South Sudan. Contact us and tell us God is calling me to help. How can I serve?