Posted on Friday, May 22, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
One thing that really stands out to me while I am reading through the letters to the churches in Revelation is the danger of majoring on one good cause. We can be doing so well in one area, but if we are neglecting another, we are still culpable for our sin. Jesus’ words of judgment and call to repentance are severe. 
And it is interesting how similar the battles our churches face today are to the first century churches addressed in Revelation. We tend to capitalize on one virtue at the neglect of another. The church at Ephesus was commended for their stance for truth. And yet, it was convicting to read the letter to this church. While they were praised for their discernment, they were reprimanded for abandoning their love to share the gospel with others. Shouldn’t a zealousness for the truth motivate us to be generous with this good news?
And then you see the flipside in Thyatira. Dennis Johnson’s commentary on the letter to this church in his book Triumph of the Lamb made me pause. He quotes Colin J. Hemer, “The longest and most difficult of the seven letters is addressed to the least known, least important, and least remarkable of the cities” (79). Jesus begins his words to this seemingly insignificant church with praise for their “love and faith and service and patient endurance,” recognizing that their “latter works exceeded the first” (Rev. 2:19). 
But he has strong words against them. Johnson sums up Jesus’ words to be, “I love your love but I hate your tolerance.” They are tolerating a woman Jesus calls Jezebel, giving us a flashback to Ahab’s wife in 1 and 2 Kings, a prophetess who seduced the Israelites into Baalism. We see the same kind of seduction from this Thyatirian Jezebel, who Jesus says is enticing his servants “to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (2:20). Johnson explains, “The combination of sexual immorality and food sacrificed to idols may suggest a setting of trade-guild banquets, held in honor of the patron’s trade-guild deity, especially in a city as dependent on manufacturing as Thyatira was” (80).
Here we see a capitulation to the materialism of the culture. Of course we want to participate in the economy and to be accepted by society. To decline participation in these events came with consequences. Johnson suggests that “Jezebel” was assuring God’s people that what they do with their bodies isn’t significant to their spiritual life, so they could participate. “Such a Jezebel was more dangerous to Jesus’ servants than a military oppressor, because her secrets drive a wedge between God’s people and the Lord” (80). Jesus goes so far as to say that these “deep secrets” that she supposedly reveals are actually from Satan. We cannot separate our spiritual life from our physical. God made us physical beings for a reason, and we look forward to real, resurrected bodies on the new heaven and new earth.
This false teaching and leading the saints into such sin sounds atrocious. What did the church do to correct and discipline her? Nothing. They tolerated Jezebel, and that is not loving. Jesus makes it quite clear just how damaging that is:
I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. (21-23)
I guess the church in Thyatira isn’t so insignificant after all. And the language from this Jezebel situation is developed even further in Revelation 17, when the harlot is introduced as another false prophet leading people away from truth. There are many similarities. So we see that this incidence in Thyatira is not unique to them.
There’s a lot to consider and apply here for our churches today. In his Shorter Commentary, G.K Beale reflects on the ability for one person in infect an entire church. Was Jezebel a true believer? Are we to treat someone so dangerous to God’s people as a true believer? Often, we compromise in areas where we shouldn’t because we want to give the benefit of the doubt. We want to be loving. We can be loving in so many other areas, and yet our tolerance could be the very thing that gives a green light for God’s people to sin. Protecting perpetrators of both spiritual and physical harlotry is not loving.
It is tempting for us all to compromise. I know I would like to be accepted and well-liked in the church and in my society. It is much more comfortable for me to compromise some of the truths of Scripture and even allow myself to be deceived in areas where there is conflict between Scripture and culture. But Jesus has taught us all a lesson through this “Podunk” church.  He places this letter right in the center as a sort of bull’s eye.
Beale asks yet another tough question, “Do we focus on God’s mercy because we are involved in compromise and would prefer to believe He will tolerate our behavior?” (77). I have to say that I am convicted by the question.
Posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
My new book, Theological Fitness: Why We Need A Fighting Faith, is now available (May 15th). Part of my contract with P&R is to provide a brief book trailer. That puts me in a bind right away because book trailers aren’t exactly as exciting as movie trailers. They are usually either boring or cheesy. So I decided to do something a little different to make it worth your while. 
I decided to just go with the whole cheesy thing and give you a bit of a spoof on 80’s karate flicks, while completely making a fool out of myself. Doesn’t that sound more interesting and worth your three minutes? I’m hoping that it will leave you asking questions that can be answered in my book. Because, you know, nunchucks lend a great illustration to perseverance and theological fitness. Take a look at the trailer, and then you can continue to read about my book:
 
 
No really, there is a connection. Shortly after I turned in my manuscript for  Theological Fitness, I logically thought that this would be a great time to really learn the art of nunchaku. Think of all the illustrations nunchucks lend to perseverance and stamina in God’s Word!
It just so happens that my dad and brother are both something-degree black belts in several forms of the martial arts (that’s my brother in the video). I grew up in that environment, and nunchucks were a pretty ordinary weapon that I was exposed to amongst the naginata, kama, you know, the ushe. Back then I would pick them up and play around with the recognized figure eight motion, but I was uncommitted. Dad and Luke were the ones who had nunchuck skills.
Nunchucks are hard. Literally! It’s difficult enough to learn the moves and get the coordination down on your dominant hand, but you need to be strong on both hands to master the nunchaku. I’m getting some moves down and even learning some cool tricks, but I am lacking the finesse that comes as your fitness increases to a masterful level. I’m also lacking the tips of three of my fingernails and have gained a bump on my head. Hurt my toe pretty bad too. These were all casualties to my attempts on nailing the wrist spin. For this move, as you are spinning the nunchucks, you let go of the one side, turn your hand, and grab the other nunchaku while still in motion.
But stamina requires constant exercise and conditioning. And a bit of obsession. Before I could get to the wrist roll, the over-the-shoulder passes, or the figure eight, I had to practice the simple forward and backward spin over and over. And over. It needs to become like second nature. To work on coordination with the weaker hand, I needed to get good at moving my dominate hand forward, backward, and sideways while simultaneously spinning with the weaker. It looked kind of silly. I’m still not very good at it. But if I want to persevere with the nunchucks, I need to press on in my training. Eventually muscle memory kicks in, and I actually begin to know what I’m doing.
Theological fitness requires much of the same kind of fight to continue. The preacher to the Hebrews exhorts us to hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering (Heb. 10:23). If Christians are to persevere by holding fast to their confession, they are going to need to know that confession front, back, and sideways. 
Theological fitness refers to that persistent fight to exercise our faith by actively engaging in the gospel truth revealed in God’s Word. It is something we fight to develop as we persevere in the everyday life of faith and obedience. When we are tempted to backslide, are challenged about our faith, experience affliction, or are just trying to make it through ordinary life, really knowing our hope set forth in God’s Word helps us to hold fast to it. We are strengthened as we read it, hear it, study, meditate on, and talk about it.
Just as with the nunchucks, this requires constant repetition. Thankfully, unlike any other kind of fitness training, we know that we don’t hold fast because of our own skills, but rather because “he who promised is faithful.” As we may figuratively break a nail or crack our head in our attempts to persevere, that muscle memory will kick in. God trains and disciplines us in the everyday. We usually have no idea what he is up to, but we can be sure that it is for his glory and our good. We may be bored, tired, or just plain beat up from enduring whatever our normal is at the time, but we should never waver in doubt of God’s will for us. It is nothing less than to be conformed to the likeness of Christ and he will have his way to get us there.
While breaking down Hebrews 10:23 to exhort and equip Christians in theological fitness, I hope to illustrate that while faith is a gift from God, it is not passive. Perseverance takes a fighting faith, and I would like to help get you to the end, which is really only the beginning.
Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Confronting someone who is in sin or error with the truth is a very sensitive topic. As we strive to teach with truth in love, Christians often disagree about delivery. At times it’s hard to discern when we are being overly offensive or not offensive enough. Sometimes we are just plain ignored. 
We want our message to be heard and received. But with the culture becoming more and more hostile to Christian teaching, there have been attempts and pleas to make the content of our faith more palatable. Maybe if we didn’t focus on the language that turns people off, we could present Christianity as the best choice and less of a stumbling block. There have also been appeals to the compassion of Jesus when dealing with sinners. But compassion never compromises truth. Compassion doesn’t mean that we should be comfortable with sin and error. And if there is one thing I’m learning, truth is never comfortable. 
I have been studying Revelation with the help of G.K. Beale’s Shorter Commentary and Dennis Johnson’s Triumph of the Lamb. As I am going through the beginning section on the letters to the churches, Beale’s explanation of what he calls the hearing formula has caught my attention. 
Each of the seven letters conclude with the exhortation: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Beale points out that Jesus uses this clause in Matt. 13:1-17, repeating a familiar statement seen in Isaiah 6:9-10, Jeremiah 5:21, and Ezekiel 3:27; 12:2. So what does this exhortation mean? And why is it repeated? Is this just a fancy way to say to all of us who have ears to listen up? And does that mean that what was just said before wasn’t as important?
Beale reminds the reader that leading up to the exhortation in Isaiah 6:9-10, the people would not listen to his plain teaching. They were hard of hearing, as we like to say. So this command to all those who have ears to hear is a warning and a signal that what follows is not going to be as clear. Isaiah “has an encounter with the Lord in which he is given the commission to render the ears of unbelievers dull so that they can no longer hear with them (6:9-10), following which his preaching becomes mixed with parables and symbolic actions” (57). A similar circumstance is going on in Ezekiel as well.
“These actions and parables had the effect of gaining the attention of true believers, shocking some unbelievers or backsliders into repentance and hardening the hearts of the rest, whose lack of spiritual wisdom prevented them from seeing the significance of the actions or parables” (58). We see Jesus using this same prophetic pattern of first speaking plainly, and then after he invokes the hearing formula borrowed from Isaiah, he teaches in parables.
And we have this same formula in Revelation. “Speaking through John, Jesus indicates by this phrase that what is about to unfold will be parabolic or symbolic in nature.”
Think about it. This hearing formula is now addressed to the church, the true Israel. Before the unfolding of horrific images of the beast, the harlot, trumpets, and the dragon, there is a clear message to the church---professors of the faith. Are we listening? What will happen to those of us with dull ears? In the section offering suggestions for reflection, Beale again reiterates how “the use of parabolic form from the OT prophets through Jesus to John shows that when people do not respond to instruction, God speaks through more indirect means which reach those seeking Him, but harden the hearts of the lost.” Beale challenges us to look at our methods of softening the hard truths in order to be more seeker-sensitive. “Are we removing stumbling blocks God set in place to reveal the heart? Are we seeking to fill our churches with people who are drawn to a reduced version of the gospel but without a true commitment to follow Christ in the way of the cross, which is the ultimate stumbling block (Matt. 16:21-28)? Is preaching the story of the cross in a hedonistic, postmodern society such as ours close to functioning like a parabolic declaration?” (60).
One thing is for sure. I still need to be shocked out of my own complacency. I wish I could say that I am one who learns the first time through straightforward instruction. I’m ever so thankful for the strong warnings to have ears.
Posted on Tuesday, May 05, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
I am reading through Melissa Kruger’s new book, Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood, for review. This is not the review. It’s just a reflection about something Kruger says on p. 3. While explaining that this is not a book about parenting, she says this about the season of raising children: “it is easy to become so consumed with the doing that we forget to reflect and think about who we are becoming as we raise our children.”
Whether we come from a great home or a highly dysfunctional one, I’m pretty confident that most of us come out of our childhood with a list of things that we will do differently with our own children. We are thankful for all the good that we may have inherited from our parents, and we are ready to combine that with our even better, more enlightened ways.
I entered motherhood eager to pass down some of my unique family traits and values to my children, while also ready to incorporate my edified philosophies to rock this whole parenting thing. It was going to be awesome. Now I have been married for almost 18 years, a mom for almost 16 of them, and am a bit more insecure about our parenting awesomeness. And now our children have entered that age range that has always loomed over me with fear and trepidation. What list are they already concocting in their still-forming minds about how they will do things better? Which values and traits will they want to hand down to their own children? 
Thankfully, I have learned a thing or two in the process. And I’m actually still learning from my own parents. Something that has blessed me as a mother immensely is seeing the amazing spiritual growth still happening in them. I want to be perfect. I want my kids to see that I have it all together and I think that gives me the credibility for the authority of parenting. I struggle with how transparent to be with my children about my own failures and need for growth. And I think this takes wisdom and spiritual discernment. But I know I tend to fault on the side of making myself look more spiritually mature than I really am, whether at the stage I am in now, or when I talk about myself when I was their age.
While what I am doing is very important to my witness to my children and my own sanctification, it is imperative for my kids to see that I am still very much in need of God’s abundant grace and I have a long way to go toward Christ-likeness. Having conversations with my parents now where they share their own growth is a witness to me of God’s faithfulness in getting us there. We all need the same thing when it comes to our sanctification and none of us are fully grown. This helps me to combat the trepidation of what’s ahead in parenting teenagers, as well as the fear of not measuring up when they look back on these years. It also encourages me in the ordinary means that God has provided for all of his children.
I am reminded of who my children really belong to. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t give us a sanctified formula for education, how many sports to have them participate in, who it’s okay to ride with in a car, what age to start dating, or how late of a curfew they should have. But he provides everything in Christ that we need as parents and they need as children. And he has promised to complete the work in which he has begun.
Parenting is extremely humbling. As my children get older, I think it gets more humbling. Sure, I want to have credibility with them now by doing all I can to parent in a godly way. But I also want my kids to parent better than me. That will be a compliment and praise that they are continuing to grow in the Lord, as well as a testimony of his faithfulness to his own legacy.
Posted on Friday, May 01, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
I’ve reached that point in my life where my kids are always trying to be the DJ in the car. And let me tell you, there are many “conversations” about the songs that are out now. If you will pardon my housewife theologian language, most of it is just crap.
Every now and then someone will enter the scene who actually sings about something that is thoughtful instead of consumed with body parts or a message about how great they are. I like to write about these rarities, when an artist actually offers a perceptive critique of culture. The more recent posts I’ve shared on this topic haven’t been bands that my colleague, Carl would approve of, as they have not been classic rock songs and the musicians are under fifty years old. The style of music may even be close to his “rubbish” category.
Nonetheless, I am digging this new band that my daughter is digging, Twenty-One Pilots. I wrote about the song, "Car Radio," from their last album, and now they have a great new release, “Stressed Out.” The lyrics in this song are a sort of reflection on growing up. Lead singer, Tyler Joseph laments the “good old days” when he was full of wonder, creativity, and imagination, when it was actually profitable to waste time in thought and silly inventions. “But now we’re stressed out.”
All the sudden, now his words aren’t good enough. His voice isn’t good enough. He has a hyper self-awareness and now “cares what people think” about his work. Instead of waking up energized to serve others with his giftedness, he hears the anthem, “Wake up, you need to make money!”
I don’t know about you, but I can identify with this. I am constantly fighting to hold on to the passion and pure love of life from my youth. I don’t want to just pump out goods for money, affirming what other people want. No, I want to be creative, engaging, and not afraid to say what I really think. That requires a willingness to spend time just enjoying life, or to sit back and observe, ans to be prepared to create some real flops as part of the process to make something great. I want to be mindful enough to discover something great instead of being swallowed up in busyness and crowd-opinion.
The song opens up with the bridge, “My name is Blurryface, and I care what you think.”
No! I think one of my greatest fears in growing up is becoming Blurryface. It’s all too easy to become this person---or this lack of person.
That’s why good theology has been such a passion of mine. Blurryface is not a pursuer of true truth, as Francis Schaeffer would call it. Blurrryface is a poseur or a wannabe. They can even think they are different by being a navel-gazer. Poseurs look to others to form their opinions, and navel-gazers search within themselves for some profound insight into life. Neither have faces.
In C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, he beautifully describes a scene where the main character Orual finally comes before the gods with her screed against them. And yet she found it a deeply humiliating experience. Oriel thought she had spent her life bravely looking for truth, and was ready to hammer the gods for their silence. But Orual reflects on what she discovered after she finally had the chance to face them in a vision, “I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” (294). She awakes from her vision and in her death ends her book with the words no answer. Orual concludes, “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” (308).
When God’s people behold his glory, we finally have a face, so to speak. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). The faces of believers are not to look to the crowd or to look within. They are not to be veiled with unbelief. As we look to God, our faces reflect his glory to the watching world. And in our sanctification, our faces should more clearly reveal a life that is being transformed into the image of Christ, by the help of his Holy Spirit.
Thankfully, we don’t need to “turn back time to the good old days” when we were less stressed-out as a cure for Blurryface. We look to Truth, and discover originality and beauty. And as we look forward to what we are becoming, Christians are less self-conscious about taking risks as we find meaning and purpose in our days. We’re even willing to suffer ridicule and care less about what others think. When we know that there is One who is worthy to serve and please, we can wake up energized in the knowledge that he is blessing our efforts.
Posted on Thursday, April 30, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
I guess you wouldn’t expect me to use the word “comforting” to describe a book that is about fear. Well, that’s what happens when you read Trillia Newbell. She is an encourager, and her book isn’t only about fear, it’s about Fear and Faith.
Trillia is pretty transparent in this book about her own proclivity to fear. She calls it, “a temptation that has plagued me for as long as I can remember” (11). And she has had to face some of these fears head-on, particularly with the loss of loved ones. But Trillia has learned that she is tempted to fear the wrong things: fear of man, fear of the future, fear of other women, fear of tragedy, fear of not measuring up, fear of physical appearance, fear of sexual intimacy. These fears all get a chapter in Fear and Faith
While describing them in ways most readers will be able to identify with in some form or another, Trillia combats each of these fears with God’s promises in Scripture. We are not told that we will live a life free of sorrow, rejection, and pain in this age. But God sustains us through them all as he is with us now ministering to us by his Holy Spirit, with the preaching of his word, and in the community of his people. He promises to use all of our circumstances for his glory and for our good, which is to be sanctified into the likeness of his own son, Jesus Christ.
Maybe you see where this is going. These chapters are leading to the proper fear that we should have, a respect and awe for our holy, sovereign, merciful God. There is a nice little chapter on “Why We Can Trust God,” that briefly covers some of his attributes. I would have actually loved to have read this topic in more detail. I find that the more I learn about who God is and what he has done, the greater my wonder and trust in him increases. 
One thing that many who are plagued by fear will like about this book is that Trillia uses the testimonies of others to God’s faithfulness in the midst of great personal trial. These testimonies don’t end all tied up in a fearless bow either. I think that Trillia wanted to really send the message  that we are not alone in our temptations to be captivated by fear, and that there are many in the church who have gone before us to encourage us now.
That leads to one of the things that I most appreciate about this book. Trillia spends some time talking about eating disorders. This is a topic covered in such shame, that it just isn’t spoken of much in the church. But you will see from the testimonies that even a pastor’s daughter may be susceptible. I hope that the sensitive and bold way that Trillia addresses such a harmful condition will help those in the church who are dealing with eating disorders to be more upfront, and most of all, to understand how the gospel reaches even them.
This book is written with a lot of passion, and Trillia’s voice shines through in her writing. If you are one who tends to get burdened and paralyzed by fear, this is a book that you can read for comfort in the One who really is in control.
Posted on Monday, April 27, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
I have always benefitted greatly from reading Starr Meade’s books. She is one of the few authors who succeed at writing for children without succumbing to cheesiness. Parents can use her books on teaching the Westminster Shorter Catechism and teaching the Heidelberg Catechism to their children, and learn plenty for themselves in the process. So naturally, I was honored and thrilled to be able to read and endorse Meade’s latest book, Give Them Truth.
It can be overwhelming for parents to think of all the things they need their children to learn before they leave home. I have three kids, and I remember thinking one day, “That’s three toddlers to potty-train, three kids to teach to read, to tie their shoes, to ride a bike, learn their multiplication tables, three mouths of teeth that will cut, fall out, and then most likely need braces, and three kids that we will teach how to drive.” That seems overwhelming enough, but my husband and I know that we have more than three kids, we have three precious souls that need to know their Savior.
What is it that our children need to know about God, and how do we even begin? Whether you are just starting out with your first bun in the oven, or you already have enough now for a volleyball team and are just feeling overwhelmed with it all, I commend this book to you.
Meade begins with a case for what our kids need more than anything else---the truth! Our children are theologians too. We want them to be good ones, because it is imperative that they know God rightly. And Meade urges us, “Our kids really can’t believe truth that they do not know” (31). 
But we aren’t merely filling our children’s minds with a bunch of doctrine that is irrelevant to their childhood. No, the truth is personal! Like it or not, our children will experience pain in life. They will suffer injustice. They will be let down and rejected. And hopefully, much of the time they will also experience great joy. What they know to be true about God, his Word, and themselves will shape how they react and cope in difficult times, and how they serve and celebrate in the good. 
The next two parts of her book break down what it is our children need to know about God, Scripture, humanity, Jesus Christ, salvation, the church, and God’s law, and some helpful guidance on how we can teach them these important truths. Once again, Starr Meade has provided a valuable resource to help parents understand the faith themselves, and teach it to their children.
Posted on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Today marks the 100th episode of Mortification of Spin. Todd, Carl and I reflect on what has been revealed since we opened the mysterious hatch of the unground bunker.
The time in the bunker has led us to some interesting locations, revealed that some of us may talk a little funny, that Carl and Todd are hopeless without me, and that there are some pressing issues that evangelicals are dealing with today. We discuss some of the prevalent themes that we have tackled on the show. But we also discovered something rather strange in the bunker. There is a peculiar magnetic pull and a constant spin that needs to be addressed. In fact, we’ve been told that we now need to return to the bunker and make sure that we punch in a our numbers every 168 hours to confront this issue. We do not know what the consequences may be if we fail to do this.
But if we fail to keep it running, if someone does not hold down the bunker and punch in the numbers on time, I know what to do.
Meanwhile, we will continue to have fun at our own expense, and try to set the world right.
Of course, the bunker is a great place to be because of the ones who join us on our mission. Hopefully we can continue in the mission for a while longer. Take a listen here and enter to win our Mortification of Spin anthology.
 
 
Posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Something was brought up in my Sunday School class this week that was a very good reminder. We were talking about speaking the truth in love, and more specifically, honest communication with our spouse. Except this one point reminded me not to think of my husband only as my spouse---he is my brother in Christ. I was asked something along these same lines in an interview before, regarding the value of a wife praying for her spouse as her brother in Christ.

How does that change things?

It really helps to put things into perspective. It is so easy to be selfish, even in my prayers for my husband. Sure, I can think that I am being helpful in my communication or in praying for his best, but when I limit his identity and vocation in being my husband, I can become consumed with how his spiritual growth is benefiting yours truly. Basically, I’m helping myself.

After all, he is to love me as Christ loves the church. His blessings are my blessings. His spiritual growth and fruitfulness benefit me. Remembering to intercede for him as my brother in Christ does help me to pray with an eternal perspective for God’s glory and my husband’s good. The fact is, Matt and I will not be married to one another in the new heaven and the new earth, but we will always be brother and sister in Christ. Praying with this in mind reiterates that Matt doesn’t belong to me; he belongs to God.

And I believe that praying in light of this truth ultimately helps me to be a better wife to him as well. I can pray knowing that even where I fail, God is always faithful. Where Matt fails, God is faithful. As we hold fast to our confession of hope together, our goal is to consummate our marriage to the ultimate Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. And we are privileged to be ambassadors of his gospel while living in the community of his church now.*

 

*Much of this post was taken from my interview with David Livernois for Credo Magazine. You can read the rest of the interview here.

Posted on Friday, April 10, 2015 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Evangelicals have taken note that our culture has systematically wiped out the word “evil” from our vocabulary. But don’t be mistaken, Christians and non-Christians alike are still very much aware of malevolence. But instead of recognizing the evil one, the evil of sin, and the evil in our own thoughts and actions when they are opposed to God, we have taken the personality out of evil. Yes, at first those concerned about such narrow-minded things such as orthodoxy lamented the spin that all language of evil had been changed to  psychobabble. 
But that song has been played so many times that less people are buying it. It seems that our problems are more profound than even a psychological diagnosis and we need a bigger playlist. It seems that no matter how hard we try to get better, something is still tirelessly working against us. And we found the perfect buzz-word to identify it. Now everyone is scratching the record to this explaination: toxic, t-t-to-to-to-toxic.
And now we have become a very suspicious group of people. Our fear is poison. It seems that everyone is out to get us. 
Sure, there is a measure of truth in this trend, or else it would not be so popular. Proponents have issued a wake-up call to be more educated about what we are putting into our bodies. It’s good to raise awareness about our responsibility in health, as well as the responsibility for distributers to produce a good product.
But now everything is labeled “toxic” and I’m afraid we’ve lost the meaning of the word. While I have many personal reasons for wanting the world to boycott Starbucks (mainly because they make bad coffee), I’m not going to use the argument that their Pumpkin Pie Latte is toxic. Because it’s not. Sure, there’s way too much sugar in it, but it’s not even close to toxic levels, I’m sorry to say. While I agree that it is not a healthy drink, I’m pretty sure it’s going to take a lot more than 3 ½ teaspoons worth of sugar to poison me. One scientist* pointed out that in order to consume enough Pumpkin Spice Lattes to reach a toxic level of sugar, your body would already be poisoned by consuming a toxic level of water from the drinks. And to say that caramel coloring can cause cancer, well, you actually need the science to back that up---and we don’t
What I see happening is that everything “out there” is evil, from Subway’s bread, to our pasteurized milk, to our shampoo. We are anxiously checking our labels and looking for better, natural, organic, non-GMO alternatives. We’re even using strange methods to detox our bodies, from marketed detox juices (that ironically contain more sugar that Starbuck’s PPL), to detox foot pad treatments.
In one way, maybe we are moving in the right direction. We have personalized evil a little more. We have noticed that something is after us and that we need to be vigilant against it’s forces. And yet once again I think we are being played for our ignorance about the true “poison” that is killing us (and our ignorance of actual science).
Evil isn’t only what is “out there,” but it is also within our own hearts. Sin is what’s killing us. And the effect of sin has put a curse on our sacred “nature.” That’s why we often need preservatives. Nature has lost it’s perfect goodness.
But we need even more than preservatives. We cannot detox sin. We can’t boycott our own hearts. Sin is personal. We are personally committing it and we have offended the only One who is good. We have ruined his good creation, not Starbucks or Subway or the scientists who invented vaccine technology. And we can argue about the best diets and the best exercises to fight against what is poisoning us, but we can’t fight the fact that as we try our best to be good stewards of our bodies, they are still subject to decay. The death rate is 100%. Not one of us will beat those odds unless the Lord returns first. And even then, we will need new bodies.
But the good news is that is exactly what is to come for all those who repent and believe in the person and work of the One who really did beat death. The very One who we have offended, God himself, came. He took on our weak bodies, faced our temptations, and endured real oppression, without sin. He lived in perfect righteousness, fulfilling all the law, and then faced the wrath of God for the sin we have committed. He put himself in our place so that he could give us his inheritance. That’s a social justice that we could never accomplish.
I find it strange that as a society we want to pick apart every ingredient and demonize every chemical (remember guys, water is a chemical…) but we are turned off by examining our own confession of faith. It is easy to be distracted by so-called toxins in the name of health and miss the true evil that is killing us all. And in effect, we miss the true Good. It’s not us and our activism against toxins. It’s the One who really is running the world, Jesus Christ.
I wish we would be as vigilant at fighting false doctrine as we are about fighting azodicarbonamide.
 
 
*Disclaimer: these links are not from Christian sources and one in particular has offensive language.