Evangelicals & Disciple-making
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8:36-37
who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.1 Peter 2:23-25
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
Older women, likewise, are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. Whoever takes an animal's life shall make it good, life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for an eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. Lev. 24:19–21
Anyone who sets out to cast their musings into the public square for consumption, reflection, and pondering will never suffer from a lack of material. Sadly, recent days have seen another mass shooting in Nashville, former President Donald Trump indicted yet still raking in millions in political donations, and somehow still retaining early leader status for the 2024 Republican nomination for President, to name just two recent actions worthy of serious contemplation and comment for debate.
Still against this backdrop, I resolutely and excitedly enter my Fourth Quarter [life expectancy is approximately eighty, so me nearing sixty, I enter my fourth quarter] of my earthly occupancy within time and space, determined more than ever to employ my meager gifts and calling, making much the name and majesty of Jesus Christ of Nazareth without apology or hesitation as I realize time is growing short: either for me individually or for this world collectively.
By no means am I under the baseless notion I will always strike the precise correct chord or dot every “i” or cross every “t.” No person, with the exception of the God-Man Jesus Christ, has walked these solemn shores and possessed that ability. Like all men after our first Father Adam, I am born with Original Sin. This dastardly condition mars the Imago Dei for lawdy-dawdy, everybody.
Having begun with that necessary disclaimer stated upfront, I press on toward my thesis. Today I want to make the case that the Adults in the Room responsible for the adult formation of LSU basketball player Angel Reese should be the ones held under the most severe scrutiny for criticism and rebuke.
By focusing on others, I am in no way allowing Angel Reese to escape accountability for her actions. She is a volitional agent who, while still relatively young, is still at such an age that one could reasonably expect her to comport herself better than she has done. I hope and pray time affords her to learn and grow as a young adult, but the adults in her sphere of influence are not serving her well.
I had never heard of Angel Reese a mere couple of weeks ago, but since the dust-up, I have seen numerous clips of her. Words like petulant & entitled are images that marinate in my thoughts. I grant I am old-fashioned, but as a fervent Conservative, I heartily embrace the ideology behind Conservatism. Conservatism believes it is vital to “conserve” the principles human history has revealed best facilitate human flourishing.
As a parent of two adult daughters, I would own a sense of failure if I witnessed my daughter conduct herself in the manner Reese displayed during the waning moments of the championship game. As an Evangelical father of two daughters, the Word of God grounds my reasoning with passages like Philippians 4:8. Let me post it again for your contemplation:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
I invite. No, I challenge you to dialogue with me and inform me what was honorable, just, lovely, commendable, or worthy of praise about the actions of Reese in response to her perceived slight by Clark. I pause to interject; as an Evangelical blogger of African-American descent, I will always narrow my focus to the African-American perspective. I do so much like the Apostle Paul, who longed to see his countrymen come to faith in Jesus Christ.
My fellow African Americans, our House is on friggin fire, all the while; we eat, drink, and be merry. In no way am I seeking to communicate that I have no regard for other ethnicities. Nothing could be further from that truth. Just as Paul spent the majority of his time ministering to Gentiles, his heart was always for his fellow Israelites.
I endeavor to preach the Gospel regardless of ethnicity, but my heart will always be for African Americans. So, instead of hating blacks as I am often recklessly accused, I write with profound fear and trembling because I see many African American transversing on the Broad Road while only the people on the Narrow Road will spend eternity in eternal felicity with God. The most loving thing I could ever do for my African American Brothers and Sisters is speak God’s Truth as best I rightly understand it.
My father drilled into me and my brothers that we represented him whenever we left our home. If we shamed our name, we understood we shamed him and his name. My mission has been to never bring disrepute to the Kyles’ name. As I look back, nothing brings me more profound joy than my father beaming that he was proud of me.
How does a person grow into maturity, be that maturity be one of spirituality or for the non-believer then culturally? The person does so in a relationship with someone in a position of authority. In a theological context, this is called discipleship-making; in a secular concept, we employ a term like mentorship.
The Adults in the Room who encapsulate the world of Angel Reese have failed her. While she still retains full volition and supreme accountability for her actions, society, writ large, has set this young lady up to fail. Even not knowing all the particulars, I can surmise the failure more than likely [not absolutely but likely] began with her parents because the Holy Writ promises as a general rule [please note Proverbs is a book of Wisdom literature, so what God inspired King Solomon to write in the Book of Proverb is never to be understood as absolute promises] if one trains up a child they will not depart from it when they are older [Proverbs 22:6].
Even conceding the fault does not originate with parenthood, then clearly, other significant figures in Angel Reese have not done their due diligence. Many of you can easily relate to the following experience: you would beam with pride when an adult complimented you on your excellent behavior by stating, “I could tell you were raised with some home training” or some variation.
God, in His infinite Wisdom, gave us parents as a gift, an act of solemn stewardship. To be sure, other family members are instrumental in our formation [and I am eternally thankful for the many family members who were vital parts of my spiritual formation], but the primarily responsible lies with Mom and Dad.
Furthermore, why are words like lady, lady-like, restraint, decorum, sportsmanship, or class banished to the bygone Victorian Age, no longer relevant to our enlightened and more liberated time? By the way, if this is what Feminism envisioned as part of their endgame, then I advocate we revert back to the Victorian Age with the quickness.
Someone remarked to me just yesterday [Saturday, April 8, 2023] that Reese only displayed bravado like her male counterparts. My response is: so we should laud Reese because she exemplifies the same wanton behavior as males? If that is part of the Feminist Manifesto, then that was a pursuit ill-conceived from the very onset.
How is it possible in a country where two of every three adults still identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ, yet when controversy arises, such as with the actions of Reese, you rarely hear arguments grounded in Holy Scriptures in the public square?
I would submit it is for one reason: much of America’s professing Evangelical community is littered and mired with Cultural Christianity. All the more vexing as I pen this blog on the eve of Resurrection Sunday, one of the most venerated times on the Evangelical calendar, if not the most venerated, and for apparent good reason.
Let me illustrate:
When you hear, “Reese’s response was a black thing that only fellow Blacks [I abhor the moniker Black, thus I use the moniker African American] could ever relate to,” my retort is short but forceful:
1) That is an insult to all African- Americans like myself who eagerly and willingly seek the same level of accountability as all fellow inhabitants of this Planet
2) God does not hold humans accountable through the lens of ethnicity (race is never the proper classification as there is no such legitimate classification as race, race is purely a social construct). He holds every person created in His image to one standard. Jehovah does not grade on a curve.
3) Why do we not see people who love to post spiritual messages on social media speak God’s truth in the public square when controversial situations arise? All we get is lazy thinking, reducing everything to race.
When you hear, “the LSU players were frustrated with the lack of respect from the general public, press, or whomever, so they were justified in expressing themselves as they did,” my rebuff is:
1) Character manifests itself most vividly only when under pressure. Virtues like courage or gallantry are never exhibited in a vacuum; they occur in an applicable context where they become necessary.
2) If you had a wise sage momma like my dear momma, then you remember her mockingly asking you, “If “fill-in-the-blank” jumps off the roof does that mean you are going to jump too?”
3) As a passionate disciple of Jesus Christ, I take His instruction and His example very seriously. When reviled, reviled He not. When He suffered, He threatened not is what the Apostle Peter wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for our edification.
4) Why are we not hearing Christ’s example as part of the conversation from professing Evangelicals as they publicly comment about the situation?
When you hear, “Angel’s NIL earnings doubled from 450K to 850K as a result of the win and the controversy. I would say the “wave” was worth it,” I lament and respond:
1) It seems we believe it is only necessary to delve out two hours a week to allow the Word of God to hold sway in our lives. In the remaining time, we can employ vain philosophies and worldly wisdom, both governed by their Father, the Liar.
2) If there ever was a time to digest “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” I could not imagine a better time than this.
3) Why don’t we hear the conversation from the Adults in the Room ground their rhetoric in well-reasoned, Biblically grounded dialogue?
When you hear, “Caitlin Clark did the same thing, but only Angel Reese is receiving criticism,” my reply is:
1) Did you actually watch clips of Clark and Reese and conclude that you are seeing comparable actions?
2) Many, even professing Evangelicals, do not realize when God employed the principle of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” this directive was not based on blood-thirsty revenge but was implemented as a means of restrain. For instance, if I injured your cattle, God limited your recompense to a cattle in return. You could not morally or legally take the life of, say, my son. God knew the nature of man would be to escalate the offense due to the hardness of the human heart after the Fall.
3) Thus, we have Caitlin Clark in what I categorize as dorkily displaying her bravado, and Angel Reese taking it to another whole level. Whatever you call the actions of Clark the response of Reese does not align with proportionality.
When you hear, “Reese was just displaying passion and spirited competition, and sports are outside the bounds for critique.” I end this hypothetical dialogue with
1) Are you friggin kidding me? This is “Stinkin Thinkin” to the highest degree!
2) I was not an English major, but I do okay with understanding language and proper communication, so I can manage to understand the following biblical mandate:
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ [emphasis mine].
Please note the word every as it is very pertinent here. There is no such dichotomy between the secular and the spiritual for the sober-thinking Evangelical. The Word of God governs all aspects of the Evangelical’s life. There is never a time the Evangelical can rightly be understood to “lay their religion down.” The Evangelical takes their religion everywhere they go. So much so the Apostle Paul teaches when the Evangelical lays down with a prostitute, the Evangelical brings the Holy Spirit into the alliance as well [see 1 Corinthians 6:16-19]. Hence, we cannot disregard God just because we step upon a basketball court. Abraham Kuyper so brilliantly captured this sentiment when he said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” Jesus Christ rules and governs the affairs even on the basketball court.
I am now several pages into this blog, and I know attention spans are short, so let me summarize. In no way do I expect the Adults in the Room to take Angel Reese to the woodshed in public. Similarly, I would never take to social media and scold any of my children. Yet, while I would never scorn my adult children in public, I would equally never condone their wayward behavior. I have seen nothing but condoning and cuddling from the Adults in the Room.
I wish nothing but the best for Angel Reese. Thankfully, God granted me time to learn from some of my youthful indiscretions. One thing that facilitated that growth was the Adults in the Room who spoke Gospel Truth into my life. Those Adults in the Room began with my Mother and Father. For that, I will be forever grateful. I hope, trust, and pray my three children will be able to say the same about me. I pray God grants the same to Sista Gurl Angela.
I am now in the countdown [less than two months to go] to permanent and total retirement. I will return to hosting my YouTube channel [https://youtu.be/Yt2XebrUOmQ] and blogging on a more regular basis. If you want to know how you can be a real blessing to me, I ask the following:
o Share with your sphere of influence
o Suggestions of topics you would like me to cover
• Prayer: I cannot emphasize the value of fervent effectual prayers of the righteous enough
As always, let me know what you think. Until then, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.
With fear and trembling,
Ricky V Kyles Sr. DEd.Min