In this episode of TGC Q&A, Jackie Hill Perry and Jen Pollock Michel address the question, “How do I proclaim Christ as the only way in a pluralistic world?” They discuss:
- “You do you” (0:29)
- An invitation to save your life (1:45)
- When “you do you” rubs others the wrong way (2:48)
- Participating in the activities of Jesus (4:07)
- A greater joy (4:48)
- The exhaustion of autonomy and the rest of Christ (5:34)
Explore more from TGC on this topic:
- The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society
- Lost and Found: How Jesus Helped Us Discover Our True Selves edited by Collin Hansen
- Contradict: They Can’t All Be True
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Heather Calvillo: Welcome back to TGC Q&A, a podcast from The Gospel Coalition where each week you’ll hear conversations between members of our council and friends, who provide their unique perspective on your most pressing spiritual questions. On today’s episode, Jackie Hill Perry and Jen Pollock discuss the question, how do I proclaim Christ as the only way in a pluralistic age? Let’s listen in.
Jen Pollock: Jackie, how do we proclaim Jesus as the only way in a pluralistic world of, you do you?
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah, I had a conversation with a young lady about two or three weeks ago at a university. And she was telling me that a lot of the language I used mainly related to repentance, self-denial, belief in Jesus that it was harmful. It was harmful because she and her friends should have the freedom to do whatever they want, serve whoever they serve, and go to hell if they want to. Which was her language. And I think she was unable to see that her way is not the best way.
I think what would be helpful for us is really to explain one, what’s at the end of choosing your way? And what’s at the end of choosing God’s way? Because I think the assumption might be to choose God’s way, means relinquishing my joy, and this miserable life, and being this Christian that just wears dresses all the time.
Jen Michel: They have to be denim, too.
Jackie Hill Perry: Pretty much with two pockets in the front.
Jen Michel: Oh no, not the pockets.
Jackie Hill Perry: So yeah, laying out why is your way not the best way?
Jen Michel: Yeah, I know. I mean, I think we assume … I mean, I know I assume that as a teenager. I grew up in the church and thought, “Yeah, I believe in Jesus, but I really don’t want to follow him because that sounds so incredibly boring. And so I’ll do that when I’m like 30 and my life has to be boring because I’ll probably be married and maybe have a kid.”
But then when you actually like read scripture and you see all the invitations in scripture to not just … you lose your life in order to save it. Like that’s so mysterious. It’s not just lose your life. Lose your life to save it, obey, like I’m reading through Deuteronomy right now, we’ve obviously talked about that at TGC before. But just all the invitations to live, obey the words of the Lord and live. And that sound that doesn’t make sense in a you do you world.
Jackie Hill Perry: No.
Jen Michel: Like I know what living is and it’s me deciding what’s right for me.
Jackie Hill Perry: And me and you talked earlier about how there comes a point when, in someone doing them rubs against what makes you happy. And so we really don’t want this to actually be all inclusive when it comes down to it. Because if my doing me means me separating from my family, or let’s say if my husband wanted me to do me, but my doing me means I’m not home, I’m not present, I’m not loving, I’m not serving. Then how is he supposed to feel? And so ultimately I think God’s way really is the way to love our neighbors well. And the way for us to love God well.
Jen Michel: But yeah, I mean, it all works until someone, they do them and it hurts me. So my husband leaves or my friend lies to me because they’re doing them. And it ultimately breaks down and that’s the beauty of the gospel. I mean, it really is the mystery of the gospel, it’s like, you give your life away and you find it, you serve and you find your greatest joy. You self-sacrifice, like you give, but you really receive. I mean, all of these like don’t seem to make sense, but Jesus makes sense of them in his life.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. And he’s not calling us to do anything he hasn’t already done himself. And so I think that there’s some type of strange joy that I get in knowing that God has invited me into participating in the same kind of behavior he did. He humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross. And he is the one that took up his cross. And so in me taking up my cross, I’m kind of doing the same thing that Jesus did. And so he’s welcoming me to do what he’s already done, but he’s also empowering me to do it too. So it isn’t, you do you, or you do him in your own strength. It’s not. We do him with the help of him.
Jen Michel: Amen.
Jackie Hill Perry: Amen. So we need that kind of hope, too.
Jen Michel: And scripture tells us like that when he took up the cross, it was for a greater joy. The joy that was set before him and I think that’s incredibly beautiful. To think about self sacrifice and service and losing our life leading to greater joy, leading to greater life. And when I think about like you do you or me do me, there’s so much control that I have to exercise. So that I get the outcomes that will make my life happy and everybody has to kind of fall in line with what I’ve planned and what I have to have. Whereas like the way of Christ is there’s just so much freedom in saying, “You know what? God’s in charge. I don’t have to keep anything, I don’t have to protect anything.”
Jackie Hill Perry: Autonomy is exhausting.
Jen Michel: Yeah.
Jackie Hill Perry: It’s exhausting because we weren’t made to function that way. We are creations. And so I think there’s some … it sounds strange and weird and probably like a lie to those who don’t see God’s word for what it is. But there’s some kind of rest in letting God be God, and us submitting to that.
Jen Michel: Yeah. I mean, what an incredible promise of Christ. Like take my yoke upon you and find your rest. Like it doesn’t again, make sense, but I think we get to lay down the burden of doing me. I mean, I don’t want to do me because I don’t always like me.
Jackie Hill Perry: And me ain’t trustworthy.
Jen Michel: Absolutely.
Jackie Hill Perry: At all.