Culture versus Christianity

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

A lot of big battles are being contested today in a variety of arenas.  One obvious arena is in college and professional football.  Many have predicted the winners – we’ll know who will win the battle in a few months. 

There’s a big battle politically.  We see it here in Alabama and in our nation.  Different political ideologies are spending huge amounts of money and energy to win the battle against the “opponents.”  We also see the battle between nations.  There are a lot of major players on the world’s stage today between some big and small nations.  Who is going to win those battles?

I think one of the biggest battles going on today is between Christianity and culture.  The battle involves people, but it is more about attitude, theology, and core values.  Culture appears to be on the offensive and gaining ground.  U.S. Christianity appears to be on the defensive and losing ground.  You pick the ethical issues – then determine who is winning the battle.

The Christianity versus culture battle is not new.  It has existed since the beginning of time.  The most instructive words come from Paul in the book of Romans when he said, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold, but rather transform the world by renewing your minds and hearts through Jesus Christ” (Romans 12:1-2).  Jesus constantly taught that a person cannot serve two masters – you have to make a decision whether to follow Christ or follow the ways of the world (Matt. 6:24).

Our problem is that we Christians have become defensive and silent.  We have become desensitized by the onslaught of ideas, philosophies, and morals that run counter to the Christian faith.  We have become complacent and comfortable!

About 60 years ago, Jim Elliot and five other missionaries were killed when they went to Ecuador to bring help and hope to the natives.  Jim perfectly described our current dilemma when he wrote, “We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the 20th Century does not reckon with.  But we are ‘harmless,’ and therefore unharmed.  We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places.  The world cannot hate us because we are too much like the world.  Oh that God would make us dangerous.” 

Isn’t that even more applicable today in the 21st Century?  Are we really dangerous?  Do we realize that we are going against powers and principalities?  (Read Ephesians 6:12.)  Do we realize the importance of the outcome of this battle between Christianity and culture?  Are we overlooking the Power that culture can’t reckon with? 

In the mid-1700s, Patrick Henry was willing to stand up and speak up.  He said, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”  Why did he say that?  He wrote in his Bible – “I’m a real Christian – that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.  I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator, and I hope to the pure doctrines of Jesus also.”  He understood the battle between culture and Christianity.

We need victory in the battle – which will bring unity.  Christians must get off the defense and begin to move forward to bring light to our world.  Jonathan Edwards, the great 18th Century New England preacher, had 70 resolutions to live by.  The first 2 summarize the other 68.  Resolution #1:  “I will live for God.”  Resolution #2: “If no one else does, I still will.”

Joshua said, “Choose today whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).  Every person is important.  Mark Twain said, “To the world you might be one person, but to one person, you might be the world.  You are the key.”

Who do you think is winning – culture or Christianity?  Which side are you on?

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