“Often we mean well, but we don’t love well. In every single encounter Jesus had with people, we see an unwavering attitude of love even as he calls them to leave their sin behind and follow him.”
– Chris Hodges
Right or Righteous?
We all live in a certain culture. How does our culture affect us and how do we affect our culture?
Some people believe one thing; others believe the total opposite. As believers in Jesus, we need to be the most loving with all, whether we agree or disagree. How?
Using the life of the prophet Daniel, Pastor Chris Hodges lays out five main principles in The Daniel Dilemma about how to love well in today’s culture.
“Here’s what we need to remember: Truth without grace is mean. Grace without truth is meaningless.”
While I don’t always agree with Hodges’ exact biblical interpretations, I greatly appreciate his foundation of grace, his attitude of humility, and his reverence for Jesus. His love for God and his love for people are evident. (I listen weekly to his sermons via podcast from Church of the Highlands. Because of his consistency in walking his talk, I pay closer attention to what he shares in his books as well as his sermons.)
“Being right and being righteous are not the same.”
Five Cultural Dilemmas
Hodges answers five cultural dilemmas on how to be a person of influence, standing firm and loving well. Here they are with quotes from The Daniel Dilemma.
1. Confused identities (Culture’s great impact)
- Know our God-given identities (chapter 1)
- Settle our core values (chapter 2)
- Be ready to stand our ground in the tests of life (chapter 3)
“The more time you spend with Jesus, the less time you’re going to spend being intimidated by the opinions of others or worrying about your problems. Worshiping God has become the first thing I do whenever I’m faced with a loss, crisis, or major setback.”
2. Whom will I worship? (Culture’s greatest test)
- Worship God (chapter 4)
- Don’t worship other gods (chapter 5)
- Give our lives fully to Jesus (chapter 6)
“Worship changes everything. Through worship, we move from viewing our problems as big and God as small to the exact opposite: because we remember how big our God is. Worship restores our perspective.”
3. Who is in charge of my life? (Culture’s greatest question)
- Identify our pride (chapter 7)
- Put our feelings in their proper place (chapter 8)
- Give God full control of our lives (chapter 9)
“If we want to overcome pride in our lives, then we must turn from being self-sufficient back to being God-dependent. . . . God doesn’t bless us just so we can hoard a lot of money and buy stuff. He blesses us to be a blessing for others, to advance his kingdom, to reveal his love through the gift of salvation in Christ.”
4. Unfocused and busy lives (Culture’s greatest culprit)
- Understand the brevity of life (chapter 10)
- Focus on our priorities (chapter 11)
- Heed the warning signs of weariness (chapter 12)
“It is better to have less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does. . . . Focus on things that will last. . . .God’s plan to bring light to a dark culture is us.”
5. Truth and grace (Culture’s greatest need)
- Learn how to connect before we correct (chapter 13)
- Let God change us into his likeness (chapter 14)
“My purpose as a follower of Jesus is to give people hope. People are ready for God, but they want hope, not a debate. . . . Evangelism is not telling others what they should do; it’s telling them what happened in you. It’s never ‘Turn or burn!’ It’s ‘Hey, guess what happened to me.’”
Keep the Hope
Ultimately, this is a book of hope. Christianity is a religion of hope. It points us to the reliable One we put our hope in.
“I’d rather have hope in what an all-powerful God can do than certainty in what I am limited to do.”
And it shows us a way to pass along that hope to others.
“With so much turmoil in our world today, more and more people are looking for hope. The more we look and act like Jesus, the more others will find hope in God. This is how we reflect God’s glory—by looking like Jesus.”
Hodges does not say it is easy, but he shows it is possible.
“The secret of influence isn’t what you say; it’s how you live.”
* * *
My thanks to Net Galley
for the review copy of this book
- Is This a Throwaway Prayer?
- Meet Travis 1. Meet Travis 2.