“The Christian and the Culture”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The time for Christians to think deeply about how they are to live in a culture that seems to be decaying before their eyes is more important now than in more recent times. This is not a new phenomenon. Over the centuries, recorded in Church History, many have considered this important issue, E.G. Tertullian, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and others.
Books have been written outlining various Christian Lifestyles. There are generally five views that have been put forth by Christendom. There is the view that Christians are to live against the Culture. Secondly, some say that Christians should blend in with the Culture. Thirdly, others maintain that Christians are above the Culture. Fourthly, there is a view that Christians and the Culture are in paradox, contradicting realities. And, fifthly, Christians are to seek to transform the Culture.
To summarize, the question before those who profess Christ is: “Should Christians express what they know to be true or simply co-exist?”
In order to answer the question, believers appeal to Scripture.
Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first… If you were of the world, the world would love you; but because you are not of the world… therefore the world hates you, John 15:8, 9. Jesus also told His disciples that they were His witnesses, Luke 24:48. Jesus gave the church a command. He commanded the church to make disciples of all nations, Matthew 28:19.
The reality that every Christian must face is that living the Christian Life will offend the world. Yet, we are not to live in fear of the world. Jesus said that He is the only one to fear, Matthew 10:28. He said in the same narrative, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33
God’s revealed proposition is that the world’s system is opposed to Christ and by implication it is opposed to those who follow Christ. The Bible is clear in declaring that Christians are in the world but not of the world, John 17:14ff. God has said to His people, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20
Believers are aware (or should be) that following Jesus is counter- cultural. Also, Jesus called His followers to be salt and light in the world, Matthew 5:13-16. We dare not hide what we know to be true or live in opposition to the truth of God’s word. Rather we are called to let our light shine… so that the world may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven, Matthew 5:16.
Peter’s first epistle provides a clear application for living the Christian Life. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1Peter 3:15
The Apostle Paul’s declaration to the Pastor Titus gives the church direction in standing for the truth of God. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” Titus 2:11ff.
God has chosen to reach the lost through His people. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit’s work is to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, John 16:8.
The biblical way for Christians to live in this culture is to pursue holiness. God commands His people to be holy, Leviticus 11 and 1 Peter 1. Holy people live under the word of God. Holy people declare the truth of a holy God. Thereby, holy people are ambassadors for Christ.
Believers ought not be silent in a culture that calls good evil and evil good. For the sake of the “lost”, and more importantly the glory of God, the church must always declare the truth. God’s word is truth, John 17:17. I pray that all of God’s people would be so willing to speak the truth in love.
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16