By Aaron Earls
Many Christians feel overwhelmed by modern American culture. Rapid changes to society’s morality and values have led some Christians to shrink back in fear or lash out in anger. Trevin Wax’s This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel charts a different way.
While the book does expose the lies inherent to the most pervasive myths of our day, it also points out how those misunderstandings illustrate longings that can point people to the gospel.
Facts & Trends spoke with Wax about the book and how vital the local church is to remaining a faithful Christian today.
Trevin: The title has something of a double meaning. First, the book is literally about this time. I’m giving snapshots of 21st-century life in North American and Western context.
But I’m also focusing on this is our time. So many people today want to shrink back from the task of being faithful in this generation and would love to have lived in a different time. They may resent some of the challenges we face today, like the sexual revolution, the rise of secularism, and the decline of cultural Christianity.
Many aspects of our time seem difficult and may cause some Christians to become nostalgic for another era we think would have been better for us.
But when we do that, we’re actually questioning the wisdom of God in putting us on earth in this very moment. We’re questioning the right of the Author of this play to put us in this scene on the platform with the curtain up at this moment.
F&T: You challenge the idea of “be true to yourself” by asserting an individual needs the church to tell his or her life story. Why do you believe this is the case?
Trevin: First, God did not create us to be loners, to be on our own. He created us in community from the beginning. And when He redeems us, He doesn’t just redeem us as individuals—He incorporates us into His family.
The reason you need the church is the same reason you need to keep people close to you—so you can get an accurate assessment of who you are and what you’re becoming. Your own vision of yourself will naturally be skewed.
Second, we need the church to tell us our life story because the world never challenges us. If you don’t have others around you to affirm a biblical perspective, the world will simply affirm whatever you think you want. And you’re left with the faulty map of being true to yourself. You need a church community to give a counterpoint to mapping out the trajectory of your life.
F&T: Of the twin myths you present—progress and decline—which do you think tempts the American evangelical church more today?
Trevin: I think decline is more challenging to evangelicals. Every generation of Christians tends to think their generation is facing things and is on a path of moral decay that previous generations have never faced.
When we think everything is going bad around us, we take an overly defensive posture and make bad decisions. We settle for maintenance in our churches rather than mission. We develop a huddle mentality, merely looking to “ride out the storm.” We are to be moving forward in mission, no matter the cultural weather.
If you really look at all those generations before us, they all have their issues. There is no “golden age.”
While church history is a treasure box where you can find things that will help you be faithful in your day, it is not a treasure map of exactly what to do.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.