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January 06, 2023
Enter the Sanctuary
By Mike Adkins

Every year Webster’s dictionary releases a “word of the year.” It’s a fascinating exposé  on pop culture in a single word. 

How do they choose it? 

Emotionlessly. The process is based solely on search engine statistics and algorithms that determine which one word received the highest jump in online interest in a single year. 

For example, in 2004, the word was “blog.” It was the year “blogging” became a cultural phenomenon and everyone wanted to know, “What is a blog, and how do I start one?” 

Dig a little deeper, and the word says something about society at large. “The year of the blog” is the year of the self-made individual, when anyone with a device and a decent Wifi signal can have a voice. “The year of the blog” tells us something about our longing to be seen and heard, significant and influential.

In 2020 and 2021 the words were “pandemic” and “vaccine,” respectively. No surprise there. So what was the word of the year for 2022? 

Are you ready for this? The word was … 

Gaslighting

 

What is Gaslighting? 

“Gaslighting” is a form of psychological manipulation that pushes someone to question reality. It comes from a play written by Patrick Hamilton in 1938 called “Gas Light,” in which a husband employs all sorts of deceptive tactics (including flickering the gas lights and telling his wife she’s seeing things) in order to convince his wife she’s crazy and needs to be institutionalized – all so he can steal her jewels.

The term was used in psychology as early as the 70s, but didn’t spill over into popular culture until the late-2000s, when it exploded onto the scene. With the rise of “fake news” and polarized political tensions, “gaslighting” has come to represent the general cultural mindset that nobody and nothing can be trusted. 

What’s real? Who knows?! Everybody has an agenda. Everybody is trying to persuade me to believe their reality. Everybody is a gaslighter. 

What once referred to a prolonged and strategic form of psychological abuse has become a colloquial term for “anyone who tries to convince me I’m wrong.” As one contributor to Urban Dictionary put it, gaslighting is “a word you google when your significant other accuses you of doing it to them.”

 

How Can the Church Rebuild Trust? 

How do you gain influence in a world that’s more skeptical than ever? A world with a growing posture of cynicism and mistrust?  

You don’t win them over with clever arguments. You don’t jump into the fray and scream the loudest. 

You build a house – a refuge from the clamor and anger, chaos and vanity. 

“As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood” (I Peter 2:4-5). 

Notice, the house isn’t a building. It’s the actual people of God. As we live out of our identity as followers of Jesus, we ourselves become a sanctuary for others. 

We create something altogether beautiful and bizarre to the world – an upside down oasis where politics don’t matter nearly as much as personal integrity, where winning arguments isn’t as important as winning people, and where truth isn’t a trick or a social construct, but a Person slain for love. 

 

Are You Ready to Enter the Sanctuary?

Are you tired and discouraged? Jaded and conflicted? The call to sanctuary is a call to rest and healing. Let down your guard, show up, and be changed by Jesus. Let Him refresh your soul-weary self in 2023 so that you can become a sanctuary for others. 

I promise, the world has never needed it more.

 

To learn more about our 2023 annual theme, “Enter the Sanctuary,” join us for a 4-week series at Grace. 

 

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