How Not to Live like a Twitchy Rodent

mouse-801843_640We live like twitchy rodents raised in a labyrinthine minefield, constantly fearful of setting off a social or cultural IED.

A reader emailed me a link to an article about new curriculum mandated for public schools in California. Curriculum which has the potential to create a hostile atmosphere for families with a biblical worldview. She asked if I could write something about how Christians can navigate and be salt and light in our public schools. It’s not just schools. In workplaces, employees are required to take specialized training covering a myriad of social concerns.  Transgender sensitivity training, LGBT education, gender spectrum orientation, cultural awareness and hate speech warnings have become standard.

I confess I’m pretty lame at working my way through this cornfield. I’m as twitchy as the next Christian. Maybe more. I work in social service in Rhode Island. When I explained to one state social worker that a family were evangelical Christians, the worker replied, “What kind of whacko fringe group is that?” At the time, I laughed it off but that happened over four years ago and the escalating atmosphere is making it harder to laugh. Some meetings open with a round of applause when legislation I don’t support passes into law and I’m the only one not clapping. State trainings on cultural sensitivity where the only culture it’s okay to mock is mine. Discussions of community resources where people exchange glances at my mention of one or two churches that may be helpful. Yeah, it’s getting weird out here.

But as hard as it is for us adults, it’s even more challenging to consider our children subjected to an organized indoctrination into a culture so antithetical to biblical beliefs. Some parents homeschool, others enroll their kids in private Christian schools but many are forced to or choose to contend with public schools relentlessly using their captive audience for social experimentation.

I may not be much help but I do understand (and live) the problem. Here are some things I do:

  1. I immerse myself in God’s Word because the evil one pipes deception into the air like an essential oil. It’s more important than ever that we read, first-hand, what God says and, with the child-945422_640support of solid teachers, internalize a solid understanding of who Jesus is and what God commands. We can’t rely on others to give us the truth! We need to pan for our own gold in His Living Waters. Likewise, we need to read and teach His Word to our children. It’s on parents and extended family to pass on the truth of God’s Word to the next generation. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 The world is relentless and persistent at exposing our children to its agenda, can we be any less?
  2. I work hard to live like the daughter of a King, like a person who owns the promise of eternal life, as someone who knows the truth and is unafraid of the weapons of this world. Whatever we face now is nothing compared to the joy in store. This is our Father’s world and in it, I represent Him. I live on an outpost of glory and, by His grace, conduct myself as an ambassador of His kingdom come.
  3. I don’t look for fights but I don’t back down when they come. There’s always time to pray and turn my anger and fear over to God so I can calmly state my position, emphasizing that I don’t expect people who don’t follow Jesus to live by the same rules but I answer to God for my words and choices. God tells us not to worry in the day of trial about what we shall say for the Spirit will provide the Words. There is a time to speak and a time, just as Jesus did before Pilate, to remain silent. If we live by the Spirit, we’ll be attuned to the proper time for each. Likewise, we can teach our children this same confidence.
  4. I meditate on verses like Micah 6:8: Micah 6:8 (ESV) “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” I care that people are treated equally. I believe God does, too. I believe in being kind because love is kind. There’s no room in my life for hatred, rage, arrogance, smug superiority, or self-righteousness. I didn’t discover God – He found me. He lives in me. He’s calling to others through me. It’s the humility angle that hangs me up but I believe it’s key.
  5. To walk humbly through life is to operate from a seat of true security, deep love for God and others, and a clear sense that we are here to serve others, not win an argument with them. So, I am quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I remember that I only see the truth because of God’s mercy on me so when I share it with others, it’s not with an attitude that they are stupid or lesser. I explain my understanding of God’s Word with gentleness, patience, and self-control. (Of course, you know, I’m imperfect at this but this is the goal.)
  6. mosaic-145810_640I refuse to spend time gazing into the fun house mirror the world puts up to reflect (deflect) the church. We are not sketch material for Saturday Night Live. We are not the worst caricatures of stereotypical believers. I know real, sincere, loving, faulted, bumbling, hard-working everyday believers and I focus on them, not Hollywood’s version of us.  I tell their stories more often than I listen to the lies of others about them.
  7. Finally, I pray in the Spirit at all times. Many saints before us have endured worse. German Christians whose children were indoctrinated by the Nazis. Slave women who loved Jesus but watched as their little ones were sold to other plantations. Chinese and North Korean parents whose children are surrounded by Communism and aggressive atheism. We do not live as people without hope. Yes, it’s hard but not impossible to endure and to triumph because we belong to the Most High God. We must be committed to a prayer-filled life both for communion with Christ and warfare in the battle for souls.
  8. I am always open to learning better ways to communicate truth, speak with humility and boldness, and open my heart to God so I don’t worry about what’s pouring out of it into my speech.

What about you? How do you navigate these times? What are your questions? Your struggles with our current culture? Where do you go for answers and ideas?

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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Descriptive gems that keep me coming back for more: (a hearty thank you)
    the evil one pipes deception into the air like an essential oil
    We need to pan for our own gold in His Living Waters.
    If we live by the Spirit, we’ll be attuned to the proper time for each. Likewise, we can teach our children this same confidence.
    I didn’t discover God – He found me.
    We are not sketch material for Saturday Night Live.
    We must be committed to a prayer-filled life both for communion with Christ and warfare in the battle for souls.

    • Patsy Arrouet says:

      The one that particularity resonated with me was 8:
      “I am always open to learning better ways to communicate truth, speak with humility and boldness, and open my heart to God so I don’t worry about what’s pouring out of it into my speech”. I plan to stop and check myself if my speech turns south, for it is an indicator that I may be closing my heart toward God and trying to ‘fit in’ with the world. Thank you, Lori.

  2. This post really resonated with me, Lori. I am teaching kids in a county with well over a million residents. Every year I grapple with jumping ship. How much longer do I teach in the public school systems when I’m so opposed to the indoctrination the “powers that be” are forcing upon these young minds? I try to be salt and light, but some days it really is hard. I have to start every morning by crying out to the Lord, asking Him to help me get through it. I ask that He show me who I can help and how I can help. At the end of the day, I remind myself that these kids won’t remember much of what I teach them, but they will remember how I treated them. Blessings to you, Lori.

  3. paula says:

    Thank you, Lori, for truth practiced.

    I, too, have found the verse from Micah to be especially meaningful in this season. That “humility angle that hangs [us all] up,” I agree, “is key.” Just recently I read that the “walk humbly with thy God” part is more accurately translated, “humble thyself to walk with God.” That subtle shift in the wording has had such an enormous impact on my heart and understanding.

    Might it be that there are times when a subtle shift in our wording, the way we explain (and live out) our hope and faith will speak more clearly to the hearts of those we strive for? Praying for the “better ways to communicate truth” – first and always, in love.