One of the things I have to wrestle with as the leader of this ministry is this question: What are we doing that sets us apart from other faith-based organizations?
In other words… do we bring any real value to people or are we just saying the same thing as everyone else? And while I recognize that there are many ways to talk about addiction and recovery, when it comes to the church world we strive to be unique in our approach and voice. And that uniqueness I believe serves as a fresh breath of air to many searching for help and hope.
In the past we’ve told you that…
- We are that “church” for anyone and everyone where they can seek healing and freedom.
- We are not “awareness” focused, we are solution focused.
- We are for building a culture of transparency and grace.
- We want to destroy the shame that people feel around the topics of porn and sex.
- We are not “AGAINST” the sex/porn industry, but rather are “FOR” something better.
- We believe the integrity conversation is much greater than focusing simply on belief vs. behavior.
Which leads me to this nugget…
We are a faith based organization that embraces the Bible but also seeks truth in science and psychology and does not limit its message to a small group of Christians.
It’s important to state this because when surveying the landscape of ministries or other organizations focused on the issues we deal with, often these groups come down on one of two sides.
A) To be a legitimate faith-based/Jesus-focused ministry all conversations need to be laced with scripture references and the like, and failure to talk about stuff without clearly labeling things as “sinful” or not is just weak and an attempt to avoid taking a stand for what we say we believe.
B) To be credible and effective we must only focus on science and data because “faith” erodes the validity of our message. In fact, some organizations are very vocal about the fact that they are NOT faith based and avoid messaging that’s tied to any sort of belief system at all.
However, what we believe and see is that science and faith are not necessarily arch-rivals seeking to discredit each other’s authority.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
True science and true faith compliment each other and strengthen one another’s message.
Admittedly, this tension we see between the two camps often frustrates me, but I understand why it happens, so I want to make a few things clear about our position on this matter:
You don’t need to mention Jesus or the Bible for a principle to be biblical.
The Bible is full of amazing life-changing truths and teaching. And you see many of these principles taught in other religions and systems of thought. Why is this?
Because Truth is Truth.
And biblical truth is biblical truth even if the person delivering it doesn’t specifically mention Jesus by name or provide a scripture reference in the footnotes.
Take for example the idea of “loving one another.”
Jesus is clear, as his followers one of our primary responsibilities is to love other people, including our enemies.
- We look out for the less fortunate.
- We act out of generosity.
- We show kindness and grace.
- We don’t take advantage of people.
- We don’t exploit or objectify people.
So if someone says, one of the reasons porn is so “wrong” is because it objectifies women (and/or men) then that person is speaking “biblical” truth and principle even if he/she never mentions Jesus or the Bible.
When we talk about values, goals, and identity it may sound on the surface like we are just offering self-help philosophy. However, if you have a faith in Jesus then your values, goals, and where you derive your identity from should look very different from someone who does not.
They should be rooted in Jesus.
No one should have to tell you that.
I’ve read some amazing books from guys who are not Christians. And what made those books especially impactful was when I read them through a Christian lens. The authors spoke to me in a powerful way that impacted me on a very spiritual level, and they never mentioned Jesus once.
Look for the biblical principle.
Draw the connections.
Trust me, you will get more out of that process than if you sit there expecting someone to spell it all out for you.
God reveals himself in his Word and in his Works.
One prominent Christian leader said the following.
Psychology is no more a science than the atheistic evolutionary theory upon which it is based.
This type of commentary is insane in my opinion and just shows a fear for engaging in these important conversations. Why can’t we approach science and psychology with the same investigative nature that we approach the Bible? Comments like that enforce the idea that Christians are a bunch of weak-minded people who can’t engage in critical thinking and the like. And quite honestly, it’s not just problematic theology…it’s bad theology.
Because God’s divine revelation is not limited to his Word.
In other words, God uses more than the Bible to reveal himself and his knowledge to us.
The Bible says as much:
“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” – Romans 1:20 NLT
There are some Christians out there who insist that everything we need to know is in the Bible. I disagree with this idea because it only focuses on God’s “Word” and completely devalues God’s “Work.”
Additionally, this type of thought completely ignores the reality of our situation.
Can the Bible tell you any of the following?
- Are push-ups or bench presses better for strengthening my chest?
- What’s the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats?
- What do I need to avoid, so I can get a better night’s sleep? (i.e. caffeine, blue light, etc.)
- Why does a certain smell or color trigger my brain to desire porn?
The answers to these questions can be found in an understanding of our brain and our bodies… the disciplines of biology and psychology.
Yes, science has often been hijacked by those who want to deny God. But just because men have attempted to corrupt these disciplines doesn’t mean that we need to reject them.
It means we need to redeem them.
Science at the end of the day is a study of God’s “Works.”
And therefore I would argue that not only is it in our best interest, but it also our responsibility to study this stuff in an attempt to better understand and appreciate what God wants to reveal about himself and his creation.
Many people believe that science and the Bible are opponents. But I would tell you that they are two sides of the same coin.
Why does your body work the way it does?
Why does your brain work the way it does?
Because a creator who’s a whole lot smarter than us made us that way. So we are foolish if we don’t seek to understand these things better.
Theology, biology, and psychology – these different areas of our life were not meant to be compartmentalized and treated independently. They are complimentary.
Completely ignore one area and you will feel the negative consequences in others.
What makes a ministry “Jesus-Centered” is its heart and purpose. Not the fact that they have a cross and a dove on every page of its website.
I’ve seen plenty of great Christian ministries out there doing great work… Kingdom building work.
I’ve also seen plenty of “ Christian ministries” out there doing not so great work. Instead of trying to build God’s Kingdom, they are more concerned about building wealth, fame, and influence.
Do you know what these two types of ministries have in common?
- They both claim to be Christian.
- They both leverage the name of Jesus.
But they are very different because they exist for different reasons.
Live Free and XXXchurch exists to help individuals live a purposeful and fully integrated life without the burden of sexual shame and regret.
We do not limit this mission to believers.
We do not say we are only here for the Christians.
And therefore we offer resources and teaching that we believe can benefit both the believer and the nonbeliever because again, truth is truth.
I believe this ministry is a Jesus-centric ministry because our mission is to help those who are hurting and broken [PERIOD].
In other words, we are here to love and demonstrate God’s grace in a real and tangible way.
And I believe that’s an extremely biblical, faith-based, scientifically sound, and Jesus-centered approach.