Over this last year, I have come across an incredible thinker who has seemed to tap into a felt need through his Youtube channel. Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and teaches in Toronto, Canada. He has gone from relative obscurity to a Youtube sensation with almost a million subscribers and is now making his way around the lecture circuit and podcast universe. And, if you don't know who he is or have't listened to a lecture or two, then I think you are missing out!
But what does a clinical psychologist and Youtube sensation have to say to the church? And even more, what can he tell us as Christians who long to make the gospel make sense to a culture that is becoming more and more post-Christian? Great question!
Becuase he is such a good thinker and has started to be asked in many interviews for his reflection on his rise in popularity, he has come up with a rather succinct explanation, and I agree. In his lectures, interviews and talks he addresses three main topics:
1) He tells the archetypal and mythological stories that have evolved over the centuries to help us understand who we are as humans and our relative place in the world.
2) In these stories, he doesn't shy away from our shadow sides and invites his listeners to come face to face to the malevolent person hidden behind a false veneer of virtue.
3) Finally, instead of protesting and being an activist for things that are above our pay grade, we should rather take responsibility for our own lives, control our little area of the world, "clean our room," and take responsibility the things that are actually in your control. And here is the secret, it is in our responsibilities, not our rights where we find wholeness and fulfillment!
It is true that Christians are getting better and better at telling the grand narrative and painting a picture of redemption for all things, all people, and for creation itself. But we have given up the other two points.
Maybe we don't have to shy away from the doctrine of depravity. Evil is real, evil is in us, and Christians have given up this theology, and to our own detriment. People want to understand why the world and why their lives are so messed up. The sad, sad truth is that so much of the problem is because people are selfish and are pretty awful. We get to the good news but skip right over the starting point. Let's bring back the doctrine of depravity, clarify the situation, then, and only then can we understand our need for Jesus and participate in the grand narrative of redemption!
Secondly, our modern telling of the Gospel has given away the responsibility portion of the equation. We have made the Gospel all about our rights, our privileges, and our fulfillment. Christianity is basically a self-help plan. And if we do talk about responsibilities, it is usually the responsibilities of behavior management. How uncompelling is that!
What if we could help people get their heads around the noble and high calling it is to be invited to be an actual daughter or son of the King! Just like in the movie, Princess Diaries, Mia Thermopolis finds out that she is a princess and goes off to etiquette school. That is usually all we think being a Christian is, etiquette school. But that is so shortsighted. Mia has to learn what it means to be a princess because one day she will be queen and have to rule and care for her people.
As Christians we have been given a huge responsibility, to take on the family business and partner with God as he expands His kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. This means that each individual Christian must "clean their own room," usher in grace, mercy, hope, and love to their small sphere of influence. Its time to get to work in the actual place God has planted you.
This simple message has resonated with millions of young people on Youtube, and I think could be used by Christians to resonate with young people for Gospel!
Let's get after it!