TGR-S6E6: How to Cure Train Wrecks


Join us on The Great Reset (via Zoom or YouTube Live at Tue Jan 5, 2020 at 1PM PST) as Ernie pitches a framework for tying together our recent themes of discipleship, reconciliation, and loving more like Jesus.

Question: Is there a single thing that both causes and sustains “train wrecks” (i.e., cascades of broken relationships)? If so, can it be inverted to provide a cure?

Perspective: Yes, abjection (i.e. dissociating self from what is toxic or outside our control). The tragedy is that abjection is essential for identity in both groups and individuals, yet ultimately destructive of the larger context. The cure is to follow Christ by incarnating into what was abjected, and overcome it by the power of the cross.

The Right Question

For most of The Great Reset, we have been seeking models and techniques of discipleship that could help the Body of Christ better fulfill the Greatest Commandments and Great Commission (which we sometimes summarize as “loving more like Jesus”). Recently, however, we have been “distracted” by attempts to confront and reconcile broken relationships.

I choose to interpret this as God in His mercy showing us the answer to the question we should have been asking: what has the Body of Christ (including us) lost sight of, that makes us susceptible to “train wrecks” and therefore ineffective at loving more like Jesus?

The Right Problem

I believe it comes from a profound misunderstanding of what it means to be holy, the way Jesus was (and is) holy. I only dimly grasp this myself, but let me attempt to explain as best I can.

During Season 5, we began talking about “vulnerably encountering Jesus through His Word & Spirit, Body & Blood.” Being Discipled by Scripture (aka WEIRD DBS) was helpful for encountering His “Word & Spirit” — but what about His “Body & Blood“? What practices do we need to love more like Jesus in precisely those areas where we are deaf and blind to His Word and Spirit?

Almost The Answer

I use a framework called the “Ladder of Learning” to help me understand mastery across disciplines (including discipleship):

The Ladder of Learning

My primary claim is that it is easiest to learn bottom-up (starting with belonging) — but easiest to teach top-down (ending with belonging).

In particular, the simplest way to motivate people to absorb ideas and follow procedures is to make them a condition for membership (or at least status) within the group. There are sound psychological, sociological, and political reasons why pretty much every society (large or small) has some minimum standards for behavior and shared beliefs. Abjection in some form seems an essential part of human development. If we never learn to sublimate our anti-social impulses, we fail to flourish either as individuals or as members of society.

This appears to have been true of Christianity since the first or second century, when bishops (as they became “priests” before that term was expanded to presbyters) decided who was eligible to take communion (hence, excommunication as a form of abjection). And despite all the problems it has caused, it is hard to imagine Christianity surviving without those who courageously abjected what they saw as toxic.

The Right Answer

But what is striking to me is that Christ did the opposite. His holiness did not consist of distancing Himself from sin. Rather, He incarnationally identified with it.

With us.

But rather than condoning sin by merely accepting sinners, He destroyed it on the cross by redeeming us. And replaced our sin with His Spirit, so that we might become His Body. So we might do the exact same thing for others — only greater!

I believe all the relational challenges we have faced the last two seasons of The Great Reset have been God’s mercy to show us that merely human abjection (anger at, and rejection of, sin) is not enough. Even the pagans do that; merely using a better Law to judge with won’t save us from death. The call of Jesus is to demonstrate His incorruptible holiness by vulnerably identifying with those we consider sinners, and experiencing His overcoming grace transforming them along with us.


In short, this is a call for a bottom-up “centered-set” Christianity that is anti-fragile enough to welcome any sinner who is willing to attend. Sure, sometimes our unconditional love may be enough to inspire them to authentically follow our practices and embrace our truth. But in the general case, when they act in ways we find abhorrent, we must dig deeper to discover where we lack the transforming grace of Christ they so desperately need (specifically, the lack they may be justifiably reacting to). And trust that if we are willing to deny our self-constructed identity, take up our abjected cross and follow Him into the very depths of sin, that somehow His resurrection power will be glorified through our weaknesses, and heal a broken world.

Isn’t that what we signed up for in the first place?

3 thoughts on “TGR-S6E6: How to Cure Train Wrecks

  1. Question From Bill: What is the Goal?

    Answer: Becoming Fishers of Men

    Allowing Christ to use our brokenness as bait to bring us and the whole world to wholeness in Him (as opposed to “hunters” who conquer using our power and cleverness).

  2. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
    “So then, from now on, we have a new perspective that refuses to evaluate people merely by their outward appearances. For that’s how we once viewed the Anointed One, but no longer do we see him with limited human insight.

    Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.” For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.”

  3. 13:02:57 From Emiliana Happy New Year: Preparing tea
    13:03:03 From Bill Breck: sorry I’m late. helping a curing adult child, and figuring o how to help a new friend in LA who just ended up in a coma with unknown brain damage. I’ll come soon.
    13:03:18 From Bill Breck: a crying adult child
    13:04:12 From Steven McGriff: @Bill, that’s a big emotional load right now. Let’s pray for God’s care for all involved.
    13:05:42 From Ernie Prabhakar: One link
    13:06:03 From Steven McGriff: Critical Community Protocol
    13:19:19 From Ted Hahs: this is really good, but i need to run.
    13:21:25 From Ernie Prabhakar:
    13:21:30 From Ernie Prabhakar:
    13:21:36 From Ernie Prabhakar:
    13:28:32 From Bill Breck: let me get his doc. I need a bit of time.
    13:36:23 From Ernie Prabhakar: I wonder… if Janet is still leaving, what is the balance of “moving towards” versus “moving away”
    13:37:59 From Ernie Prabhakar: I wonder how Steve is currently feeling about the issues of authority and discipleship we have had friction over.
    13:38:11 From Ernie Prabhakar: Love ‘Being Discipled IN Christ”
    13:38:26 From David Huffman: Same with me Emiliana – regarding issues
    13:38:40 From Ernie Prabhakar: Desperate for Connection.
    13:40:33 From Ernie Prabhakar: J W: Practical aspect of “abjection” when there’s conflicting ideas.
    13:41:37 From Ernie Prabhakar: R W: How to related to concrete practices? Real life circumstances
    13:42:33 From Ernie Prabhakar: I wonder.. if this touches on what DJ means by “train wrecks”
    13:43:01 From Ernie Prabhakar: Abjection: e.g. Adam and Eve from the Garden
    13:43:12 From Ernie Prabhakar: Revelation: Jesus spewing lukewarm churches out
    13:43:56 From Emiliana Happy New Year: noun ab·​jec·​tion | \ ab-ˈjek-shən \ Collegiate Definition 1 : a low or downcast state : DEGRADATION 2 : the act of making abject : HUMBLING, REJECTION I protest … this vile abjection of youth to age — G. B. Shaw
    13:44:27 From Ernie Prabhakar: B W: Goal of TGR?
    13:45:11 From Ernie Prabhakar: B W: Scripture references? Why we have side calls?
    13:46:53 From Ernie Prabhakar: B W: Pet models? Different approach to what we do together
    13:47:18 From Ernie Prabhakar: DJ W: Incarnationally identified (Baptism and Cross)
    13:47:37 From Ernie Prabhakar: DJ W: Connection with Story
    13:48:01 From Ernie Prabhakar: DJ W: What do we do next? What does it mean?
    13:49:31 From Bill Breck: I wonder how we can help Janet feel comfortable to interact with us, and how TGR can support her vital project in some manner.
    13:50:34 From Ernie Prabhakar: DJ W: Wonder if Ernie hears or has ever heard
    13:52:01 From Bill Breck: I still wonder as A Body how to understand each other better, to seek understanding/learning. To value differences and work through differences, to appreciate life histories, OT
    13:52:13 From Bill Breck: …not just debate verses
    13:52:28 From Steven McGriff: @Bill, thank you for that idea
    13:53:50 From Ernie Prabhakar: Janet: would love to have you come back one more week for our Season Finale

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