Jn. 13:15 π Rom. 8:9 π Rom. 8:29 π Gal. 3:3 π Gal. 5:13 π Eph. 2:10 π 1 Pet. 2:21
When a Hindu or Muslim or Voodoo high priest or animalistic tribesman comes to know Christ, it is inherently understood that he must reject his culture and his heritage to receive Christ and stand in Him. But when a westernized "Christian," born into a so-called "Christian" nation, comes to know Christ, no such requirement is seen to be upon that one. There simply is no inherent requirement for the new convert to submit to Christ as a King who demands of him a lifestyle fundamentally different than that of his friends, acquaintances and neighbors. This is extreme foolishness, ignorance and arrogance all combined into one package deal.
First, this is a demonstration of complete ignorance as to what "culture" really is. Allen Bloom offers this:
"First, culture [in common usage] is almost identical to people or nation, as in French culture, German culture, Iranian culture, etc. Second, culture refers to art, music, literature, educational television, certain kinds of movies - in short everything that is uplifting and edifying, as opposed to commerce... [But the concept of culture, because of bourgeois (selfish, shallow, materialistic) hypocrisy and artifice], has also become part of empty talk [words that mean nothing because they have been emptied of distinctive meaning by egalitarian (all must share equally) society], its original imprecision now carried to the point of pathology. Anthropologists can't define it although they are sure there is such a thing. Artists have no vision of the sublime, but they know culture (i.e., what they do) has a right to the honor and support of civil society. Sociologists and the disseminators of their views, the journalists of all descriptions, call everything a culture - the drug culture, the rock culture, the street-gang culture, and so on endlessly and without discrimination. Failure of culture is now culture." (The Closing of the American Mind, p. 184, 187)
Since there really is no concrete definition for what a "culture" is, we are immediately faced with the very problematic dilemma of determining what the "culture" of a "Christian nation" might actually be. How did the people of Christ ever let themselves get pushed out onto this shifting sand anyway?
It is extremely arrogant, therefore, to presuppose that a "culture" which cannot be defined should serve as the standard for one's life - this arrogance is multiplied exponentially when the non-identifiable "culture" is used as a basis to imagine and believe oneself superior to other human beings!
With this fuzzy, nebulous non-definition as our starting point, let us then consider carefully what the American "culture" (whatever that actually is) has given us:
- Popular entertainment (music, movies, sports): These are the new opiates of the masses. Many of the ardent followers of these entertainments have little or no time for important pursuits and little funds left afterwards for genuine causes.
- "Education": Children are systematically processed and forced to sacrifice their personal creativity and distinctiveness so as to acquiesce to socialistic pressures and paradigms. "Education" is nothing less than a prison system built by the moneyed powers that lurk behind the scenes to contain youth and keep them from changing the world too much (away from the power base of the status quo, that is).
- "Church": Supposedly the vehicle by which the words of God are passed on to the people who supposedly want to know God, obey Him and experience and receive His abundant and eternal life, the "church" is now the vehicle for institutionalized traditions of men that make the word of God of no effect in the lives of those who hear it. It is a lucrative career choice for anyone with eloquence and an ability to draw followers after themselves and their teachings.
- Government for the bureaucrat: The American political system was originally intended to be "government of the people, for the people, by the people" that attended to and responded to the wishes of the people. Now it is a system of extremely overpaid elected and appointed officials whose sole and primary purpose in life is to keep their lucrative career position. It is a system designed to punish and oppress the uncontrollable honest citizen and build up a ready mass of wicked, shiftless individuals dependent upon the government's "good wishes" for their income and livelihood, men who will become a manipulatable mob at any time a crisis is needed or any time the powers behind the scenes need proof that "democracy just doesn't work."
- Disintegrated, dysfunctional "families": Many "families" disintegrate at the first time of real trouble (unexpected or untimely death of a loved one, divorce, turbulent youth, disablement of a wage earner, etc.) because one or more members of the family puts "me" first, far above the interests and needs of the others in the "family."
- Incessant labor and work-aholism: Many are simply too busy for the important things of life (like children and relations with them) as both parents will work full-time to afford luxuries, too-large homes, too many cars and other toys, comforts and gadgets that are deemed "indispensable" and "necessary" but many will not sacrifice their time and energies to spend more time just knowing their children. Then when the child strikes out in his own direction, the parents lament that their child suddenly became someone they just don't know or understand.
- "Science": Science is supposed to be the study of knowable and provable knowledge - that and nothing more. But "science" offers its opinions on remote unknowable history, the existence of God, the non-existence of any devil, the "stupidity" of the gospel and those who believe in Christ, etc. nonetheless. Scientists who label themselves as creative because they find new and clever ways to discover pre-existent truth are not creative (in the real sense of the word) and are only proving that one must operate outside of the parameters of science and knowledge to succeed in life.
- "Indispensable" technology: Countries like India will pay thousands of workers to do a large-scale job and the result is widespread provision. Here we would rather pay one man or one company thousands, even millions, of dollars to use a relatively few pieces of expensive equipment to accomplish a large-scale project - and the result is inordinate wealth in the hands of one or a few. Meanwhile, because of the existence of the one man with his expensive equipment, the average individual cannot afford to even attempt to do his business without similar equipment (which he truly cannot afford and most often must go into debt to obtain). What a system of entrapment the Industrial Revolution conveniently created.
- Arrogant, self-centered wealth: The "leisure class" did not exist (certainly not as a distinct class and certainly not as a well-populated segment of the population) up until 150 years ago. Now whole armies of pitch-men concoct advertisements to convince Americans they need their products and must have them - frugality, moderation, prudence, godly wisdom be damned! Buy our stuff now!!! A fool and his money are still easily parted. It's just that most Americans have had so much of it they haven't paid attention to how much they've lost. Recent downturns in the economy have brought on some bright moments of reality therapy for some Americans but for many the theme song of their life remains, "I did it MY way..."
The American "culture" could be summed up as the unrestrained gratification of the flesh done in the name of liberty.
In contrast to all this "culture," we have Jesus who left us two examples to imitate: selfless service ( Jn. 13:15 ) and suffering ( 1 Pet. 2:21 ) as we attend to the good works that God foreordained for us to routinely do. ( Eph. 2:10 ) We are called to be conformed in maturity to the complete likeness of Christ Jesus ( Rom. 8:29 ), indwelt and filled with His Spirit. ( Rom. 8:9; top )
Our first priority in life must be that of simply being an obedient child of God - and this first priority overshadows and directs all the other priorities in our life. Second comes our closest relations, that is, our family - as husband or wife, then as a parent to our children. Third comes our Christian family relations with one another and fourth our interactions with the people of the world. This is the order of priority of our life though circumstances may make a lower priority temporarily more urgent and perhaps even necessary. It is in this event that we must seek wisdom and guidance to discern which is truly necessary for life and godliness and which is only urgent distractions away from that which is truly important.
When our "culture" with its worldly demands expects us to sacrifice our highest priorities so as to take on creature comforts or "the easy way out" of various situations, we must choose whether we will follow Christ or this world. In our westernized society, those choices are often subtle and interwoven with snares that will entrap us in some bondage or lead us away from our obedience to Christ. All of these evil aspects of our culture must somehow be eliminated from our life if we are to be the spotless bride of Christ. It is not enough to go forward at an altar call, attend "church" routinely and remain a willing and eager participant of the elements of our worldly and wicked "culture." We cannot finish in the flesh what was begun in the Spirit ( Gal. 3:3 ) and we cannot obey the call to liberty from sin, self and Satan by obeying the lusts of the flesh, even when those lusts are dressed up in their more subtle forms. ( Gal. 5:13; top )
Let he who has ears hear.
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