Our culture tells stories about the good life. Every day, without even realizing it, we take in messages about the good life: unexamined assumptions, beliefs, and practices.
In his new book This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel, Trevin Wax asks:
What if we are living according to the myths of our culture without even questioning them?
What if we are falling for false stories— not because they are in our history books but because they’re in our everyday habits?
Wax wants to help us identify the myths of our culture, and he wants to help us respond well. He wants us to live faithfully in our time.
How to Respond
To resist the lies of culture, and see through to the hope of the gospel, we need to do three things.
First, we need to identify the longing at the heart of the myth. “There is usually something good and right in the stories our society tells. When someone believes a myth about the world, it’s usually because deep down, they want something in that story to be true.” When we identify the legitimate longing behind a myth, it helps us to build common ground.
Second, we must challenge the lie behind the myth. “If we do not expose the lies at the heart of the stories in our society, we imply that the Christian view of the world is just one option among many, just one way of finding fulfillment.”
Finally, we must shine the light of the gospel on the myths of this world. This light exposes, but “once our eyes adjust to its brightness, we discover how the gospel also answers our deeper longings in ways that surprise us.”
Some Christians are good at exposing lies. They are “lie-detector Christians” who fail to recognize the legitimate longings behind our culture’s lies. Other Christians fail to expose what’s false about culture’s myths. They are “complimentary Christians.” Wax wants us to take a different approach: “We must be savvy enough to see how the gospel answers deeper longings and rejects humanity’s lies.” The rest of the book helps us accomplish that task.
Analyzing Common Myths
In the heart of the book, Wax analyzes a series of myths. He begins with habits that impact us every day: myths told to us by our smartphones, the movies we watch, and the assumptions we make about why we’re here. He then turns to larger societal myths about political involvement, marriage and sexuality, and our views of societal progress and decline.
Wax is clear and insightful. He’s able to distill truths in a clear, practical way. There were many times that I spotted lies I’d unwittingly adopted, and experienced flashes of insight I hadn’t expected.
It’s easy, even within the church, to propagate societal myths about the good life. Our sermons sometimes reenforce societal myths to be true to ourselves, and to embrace marriage and sexuality as a means to self-fulfillment. Wax helps us “showcase a better story, to extend the grace and mercy of the gospel, and to open our arms to people who are fleeing” from myths.
Wax’s insights need to be read and reread so that we understand the lies we’re believing, and know how to respond.
A Better Story
It’s not enough to analyze common myths. “Christians who shine the light of the gospel on the myths of our world do not simply say, ‘This is right and this is wrong,’” Wax writes, “but ‘This is better.’ The gospel tells a better story.”
It is possible for us to live faithfully in our time. Wax not only teaches us how to recognize cultural myths, but he shows us how to respond and to point to a better story.
I’m a fan of someone who can think clearly and express truth beautifully. Wax has done us a great service by writing this book so that we can understand our time, and learn how to live with wisdom and faithfulness. “We live in light of the truth, trusting that the flame of faithfulness that passes from generation to generation will never go out.”
“The truly courageous are those who crucify the self the world tells us to be true to.”
“What’s a lion in a coliseum next to the Lion of Judah?”
“A good marriage always invites people into its sphere of happiness, especially those who are single and in need of family bonds.”
“People are starving for God, and so they settle for sex.”
“As long as you are looking up to God for salvation, you cannot look down on anyone else. Grace shatters any sense of superiority.”
“We can’t be faithful in our own time if we’re always longing for another!”
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