Back when Mark Sayers was releasing the book Facing Leviathan I had the great privilege of endorsing it (you can read my endorsement on the first page of the book), and I still believe it’s the best book on Christian leadership I’ve ever read. Mark’s next book, Disappearing Church, was equally as helpful for me as well. So you can imagine my excitement to read Mark’s latest book release titled Strange Days.
On a podcast John Mark Comer described Mark Sayers as the most brilliant cultural commentator of our day and that is most definitely not an overstatement. I have a short list of authors I read no matter what and Mark is on that list. Strange Days is most definitely a worthy book purchase and read. Here are the best quotes from Strange Days:
Like Cain, our selfish rebellion, thrusting us into the fleshly condition of fear and mortality, seeks to find security and stability in the spaces, places, and social structures that we create.
Lost, wandering east of Eden, we, like Cain, scratch out imitations of home in the dust of where we find ourselves. Unable to return to Eden, we create a place for ourselves. (pgs 26-27)
Our nations, our cultures, our places, and indeed our religions—buffers against the flesh—soon turn into barriers distancing us from God, which is an essential component of the flesh. These systems take on a life of their own and go rogue, becoming destructive rather than protective forces. (pg 33)
The miracle of the resurrection was not just a once-off, individual miracle reserved for the risen Christ. It was and is an invitation to join God’s salvation project, to be resurrected, to live fully human lives through the work of Jesus, minus the corruption of the flesh. (pg 36)
The world is becoming a construction site where walls—physical, cultural, and spiritual—are being simultaneously erected and torn down. All in an effort to keep the chaos at bay, to reach for the purity of a utopia, to find a sense of home, and security. (pg 45)
Globalization integrates cultures, expanding our ability to reach around the world and move across boundaries. For traditional societies, meaning is found in the correct and sacred ordering of space and time. Globalization radically rearranges both. (pg 47)
Part of the reason we feel as if we’re living in strange days, like culture is decaying and the world is moving into greater conflict, is because of a fundamental and implicit assumption. The assumption is that we have reached a new era of human history, a post-conflict world in which we’ll gently slide toward a future both diverse and tolerant. (pg 52)
The reason we feel as anxious as we do is that we don’t see what we expected. We came running into the new world with arms raised in triumph, like a boxer waiting for flowers to flood the ring. But as the darkness swirls around us, our posture shifts. Our arms slouch in confusion, as if to ask, “What is this?” Expect utopia, and dystopia is jarring. (pg 60)
We fear commitment and don’t want to be bound, preferring instead to travel relationally light. Thus we have more freedom, but the cost is a sense of lostness, isolation, and an absence of meaning. (pg 64)
Melancholic, anxious, and pining for the warmer days of the past, churches, Christian organizations, and believers can find themselves retreating from their God-given mandate, forgetting their prime place in Christ’s mission to win the world. Instead of providing a shining alternative to the anxiety and despair of the surrounding culture, we can simply be a mirror reflecting its worries. (pg 117)
Our unhindered comfort not only makes us spiritually sick but mentally and physically weak…Our lack of hardship weakens our resilience. We are born for struggle, created for a cause, formed for a great battle. (pg 121)
Christians, formed by the church, shaped by its relational rhythms, abiding with Christ, fighting flesh and living in the Spirit, are built for the real world. (pg 143)
We settle in with culture to try and influence it for Christ. We contextualize so heavily that we dishonor—usually subtly and unknowingly—the biblical distinctions between the church and the world. (pg 152)
The Christian who lives by the grand story in our strange days becomes like the men of Issachar “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron. 12:32). (pg 170)