What I learned from the 'Angelina effect'

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What I learned from the ‘Angelina effect’

September 23, 2014 - Jim Denison, PhD

Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie attends a summit to end sexual violence in conflict, at the Excel centre in London June 12, 2014. The summit runs from June 10 to 13 (Credit: Reuters/Luke Macgregor)

 Angelina Jolie made world headlines last May with the announcement that she had undergone a double mastectomy.  She did not have breast cancer, but she had tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, which placed her at significantly higher risk for developing the disease.  So she had preventative surgery, then told the world what she had done.  Her goal was to help other women get gene tested.

Now we know the results.  A new study discovered that genetic testing referrals for the most common breast cancer mutations more than doubled after Jolie told her story.  Referrals continued to be much higher for months afterwards.  Researchers are calling this phenomenon the “Angelina effect.”

When I read this story, I wondered: How can I have such a powerful effect for Jesus on those I influence?  As I prayed about this question, a text came to mind.  Jesus taught that he is the “true vine” and we are the branches (John 15:1).  Then he warned us, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers” (v. 6).

Consider an analogy.  I was running in our neighborhood recently and came upon a massive pile of tree branches set out on the sidewalk for the trash service to collect.  The leaves looked just as healthy as when their branches were connected to the trees.  But when I ran past the house a few days later, the leaves had withered and turned black.  They were the same leaves, but they were no longer connected with the source that gave them life.

Our Creator is that Source for us.  He seeks to foster and empower holiness in every dimension of our lives, then use us to lead others to himself.  But we cannot give what we do not have or lead people further than we are willing to go.

“Sunday sanctification” is the curse of our age.  The idea that we can serve Jesus on Sunday and the world on Monday is heresy.  Jesus is either Lord of all or he is not Lord at all.  There can be only one true king of any realm, or any heart.  When God’s people give him complete control of our time, abilities and resources, he uses us to draw all people to himself (John 12:32-33).  When we separate Sunday from Monday and religion from the “real world,” we wither spiritually and the culture with us.

Habakkuk 2:20 states, “The Lord is in his holy temple.  Let all the earth keep silence before him.”  Commenting on this text, A. W. Tozer asserted: “When any of you men enter your office Monday morning at 9 o’clock, if you can’t walk into that office and say, ‘The Lord is in my office, let all the world be silent before him,’ then you are not worshiping the Lord on Sunday.”  He added, “If you do not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship him one day a week.”

Are you worshiping the Lord wherever you are, right now?

NOTE: Your response to last week’s North Texas Giving Day was tremendous.  So many of you gave generously to support our ministry.  We are financed entirely by our readers—you make the Cultural Commentary and all we do possible.  I want to thank you personally for the privilege of partnering with you in this work.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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