Do you ever struggle to make sense of your circumstances? Many times, I’ve looked at what’s happening in my life and asked, “What on earth are you doing God?” Some things begin to make sense in retrospect as I look back on what’s happened. Other circumstances still have question marks next to them. There are many things that I’m looking forward to God explaining in heaven, one day. In the meantime, others can help us navigate the murkier days. Last month, I listened to a preacher named Sandy Wilson at a conference in Huntsville. He shared the story of Elisabeth’s Elliott’s first year of missionary service.
Two weeks ago I began to talk about our Learning Centre discussion on the “no strings attached” (N.S.A.) approach to relationships that North Americans are characterized by. I shared that sociologists summarize the Canadian mind-set as being typified by low trust, low obligation and high freedom. These qualities are not just unbiblical but extremely unhealthy because:
- A lack of trust will lead to isolation and loneliness relationally.
- A low obligation mindset will lead to problems professionally and maritally because healthy commitments are the glue that holds relationships and organizations together.
- A priority on freedom will cause someone to check out when things get uncomfortable.
Given the emphases of our culture, it’s not surprising to me that baptism has become less and less popular in the church – and yet I’m convinced that it’s one of the things God has designed to bring healing to our N.S.A. issues. When was the last time you thought about baptism?
Earlier this fall, I shared in the Learning Centre about one of the things I learned about Canadian culture when I went to Japan. I didn’t realize until I left my own culture that the Canadian approach to relationships is known by sociologists and others by the acronym N.S.A. That doesn’t refer to the National Security Agency but the “no strings attached” style of relationships that Canadians and Americans have become known for. We’re considered friendly and informal, but as one sociologist described, they “always think everyone is their friend. But they don’t trust anyone.” Or someone described the mindset as, “relationships should be something that exist for the sheer enjoyment of them – not something to which you’re obliged.” Or another person has said, “Our friendships are based on freedom to come and go as we please.”