How Do Christians Live in a Changing Culture?
The tectonic plates of culture are shifting. We’ve felt the rumbles this past year, and no doubt will continue to experience the aftershocks in days ahead. So, how do we, as followers of Jesus who desires to be faithful to God’s word respond? How do we live as the church in these days?
Here are a few ways we should not respond:
- Panic – “Oh no! What will we do in a post-Christian culture?!” Jesus is not wringing his hands in anxiety. “The gates of hell will not prevail” (Mt. 16:18). The church has never needed the state to survive, nor has it thrived best in history when held in high esteem by the culture.
- Anger – “This nation needs to return to God!” Anger typically doesn’t accomplish much, and usually opens the door to self-righteousness rather than repentance (James 1:20). We are called to the fruits of the Spirit, and anger doesn’t show up on that list.
- Compromise – “If the church would just adjust to culture…” This happens in one of two ways. The church either waters down its teaching to conform to the world, ultimately leaving no substance… OR, the church becomes a gimmick, dog and pony show operation rather than a reverent, grace-filled, counter-cultural, Christ-centered gathering. Neither of these are options.
Here are a few ways we should respond as a church, all taken from 1 Peter, a book written long ago to Christians living as exiles in a strange culture that was often complacent or outright hostile to the Gospel:
- DO rejoice in the calling you have received to be God’s children, i.e. worship (1:8).
- DO set your hope upon the grace that will be revealed when Christ returns (1:13).
- Do strive for self-control and holiness, which are in themselves the greatest “apologetics” (defense) we have for the truth of the Gospel (1 Pet. 1:13-15).
- DO hunger and thirst for the Word of God like newborn babies cry for milk (2:2).
- DO love your brothers and sisters in this church deeply (1:22).
- DO live such good lives that those in culture who speak evil of you will have no grounds for such accusations (2:12).
- DO show respect and honor for politicians and government authorities (2:16-17).
- DO serve in your vocations as spouse, parent, child, worker, citizen, and neighbor with integrity and joy, doing all these to God’s glory (2:18, 3:1-7).
- DO expect suffering and exclusion, but never respond with threats or insults (3:9, 4:12-13).
- DO study hard, know your faith, and be ready to defend its truth with gentleness and respect when called upon (3:15).
- DO embrace the “weirdness” of holiness (4:4-5).
- DO cast all your anxieties on Christ, for he cares for you (5:7).
I could go on and on with more from 1 Peter, but for now I’ll just add:
- DO read 1 Peter and ponder its words in light of our present cultural context!
In short, be of good cheer, church! God has called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light, that you might declare his excellence to this generation, during this time, in this place. These are great days for the church!