How to Love Well in Our Culture

“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.

Truth without grace is mean. Chris Hodges sm

“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.”

* * *

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 My thanks to Net Galley
for the review copy of this book

17 thoughts on “How to Love Well in Our Culture

  1. Pam Ecrement

    Hi Lisa!
    I am unfamiliar with this author or his podcasts, but this was an excellent review with some exceptional quotes. I think it is especially timely because of how charged every cultural area seems to be today. For the past several years some of the posts on FB of people (Christians) I know has become so polarizing and hard that I have “unfollowed” many. I cannot be bombarded with it and am grieved that so much was coming through the words of other believers. It can be easy to forget that we (as His kids) are first of all to be a part of, represent, and reflect His culture.

    Thanks for this!!


  2. Michele Morin

    Lisa, this is the second review from you that I ‘ve read recently in which you said something like: “While I don’t always agree with everything . . .”
    And I think that’s a valuable position to take. We don’t have to agree on every point to learn from someone, and I value your sensitivity.

  3. Ed

    Great review with a lot to think about. But really….when it comes to God we can keep ourselves so busy focusing on the Lord we will forget about everything else!

  4. Beth

    I attended the She Speaks conference this past summer and Chris spoke and gave everyone a free copy of this book. Sadly, I have yet to read it, but your review gives me more inclination to do so, Lisa. I especially love and am intrigued by the “Learn how to connect before we correct” section. I’ll have to pull it out from the cobwebs! ha! Thanks for this review and I hope you are doing well in the New Year, my friend! Always great to stop by and visit your place.

  5. Candace Playforth

    So many important points here, Lisa. This looks like a book I really need to read. Thanks for introducing it to me. I love this: “Evangelism is not telling others what they should do; it’s telling them what happened in you.” I think far too many people are confused about that. It can definitely give others an aversion to Christianity when we get that backwards.

  6. Mary Geisen

    As I was reading your review, I hear many ideas of discipleship that correspond to ones I am learning through a leadership cohort. One of the things we are spending a lot of time on is the whole idea of truth and grace. You cannot have one without the other and this quote mirrors that… Truth without grace is mean. Grace without truth is meaningless.”

    Thank you for sharing!

  7. June

    Fabulous quotes, Lisa! If he “walks his talk” as you say he does, I can see why you sit up and listen when this man speaks! Thank you for sharing! I’ll definitely be adding some of these to my quote library AND endeavoring to live out their example in my own life. Blessings on your week, friend!

  8. Bev @ Walking Well With God

    I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him speak….lots of good meat in these chapters. As I went through I was like yes, need to work on that, and that, and that…..I love “Connect before we correct”. We need to be invited into people’s lives and not go barging in with our righteousness – even if we are speaking Truth. Connecting is not about being “right”, it’s mostly about offering grace.
    Bev xx

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