Christians Challenging Culture Is Not What You Think
In the last couple of years we see Christians making all kinds of statements on politics, protests, and the pandemic. Believers expressing their opinions, but in reality declaring that their opinions are God ordained. Vote for only this candidate, decide mask wearing on what you feel is right instead of researching what experts say, and only listen to certain voices instead of searching the Scriptures and being open to the Lord. This last example is the most grievous to me, because it creates an ungodly dependency on the latest prophet, rather than the Lord Jesus. And, yes, Jesus is Lord.
With all the noise that has gone on with us believers, I wanted to see what the Scriptures teach how God wants us to act with the culture. Amazingly the Bible has more to say on this matter than I originally thought.
Overwhelmingly, it turns out there are two themes of addressing culture. The first is to care about unbelievers, and second being consistent in our behavior with our beliefs, in other words our character. That is it, period! No ranting and raving about elections, no vilifying people of differing political views, and no judging others. Those reactions are contrary to what the Scriptures teach.
So what are the Biblical examples? Let’s start with Colossians 4:5-6. “Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.” So here Paul says live in a wise manner. This is getting God’s understanding in every situation. It doesn’t mean spouting unfounded conspiratorial rhetoric. Second, he wants us to make the most of every opportunity in sharing our faith, but share it with grace and respond with a good answer. So don’t argue with unbelievers. Just simply, with kindness and grace, share how Jesus has changed our lives.
Another passage dealing with behavior toward non Christians is 1 Corinthians 10:33, “I try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what I like or what is best for me, but what is best for them so they may be saved.” This is to be other person focused. The other person in this case is the unbeliever. Some of you at this point may be saying, “Are we people pleasing, and not pleasing God?” This is a fair question. People pleasing is when we do things for people in contradiction to God’s ways. But if it is not contradictory, then God expects us to reach out in love and kindness to others.
2 Corinthians 6:3 combines both themes of our character and loving others. It says, “We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry.”
Another Scripture about our character reflecting Christ to nonbelievers is Romans 14:17. “If people persecute you because you are a Christian, don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” Seriously! Do we really pray a blessing on those in our culture who make fun of us, or worse to harm us? Do we really take to heart Jesus’ words to love our enemies? Yes! Yes! Yes! Most of what I have seen in the last couple of years is believers praying judgment on those who oppose us.
You remember when Israel was taken into captivity for their ungodly behavior and ended up in Babylon. God tells Jeremiah to pray for the nation that is holding them hostage. Listen to these words from Jeremiah 29:7, “And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you.” WOW! Praying for blessing on a godless society? What a novel idea. Have we seen believers espouse that view in the past couple of years? I haven’t much. What I have seen is vile rhetoric and dire warnings of the devil ready to take over our country.
We also have marching orders of how we live before the world. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 says, “This should be your ambition, to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before. As a result, people who are not Christians will respect the way you live…”
If you still believe what outsiders think about us doesn’t matter, then you have to deal with Paul’s criteria for an elder. In 1 Timothy 3:7 we read that people outside the church must speak well of a potential elder. It sure sounds like what nonbelievers think of us matters to God.
So fellow Christian, are we living like Jesus to the world. Are we being loving, caring, and working hard? Are we praying blessing on the “ungodly” culture or are we pronouncing judgment?
Don’t expect the world to act like we want. The world is not the church, so quit demanding that our culture change because we are a “Christian country”. Fellow believers, we may have Christian roots, but we are not a Christian country. So quit trying to recapture some bygone era, and start living like Jesus wants in order to challenge the culture. When we do, I believe we will see change, lasting change, that which comes from the heart. When the heart is changed, then the culture will also.