Cultural Pitfalls

by Jul 10, 2024Devotional1 comment

Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

      Shawn Smucker writes, “As has been the case in far too many instances, Christianity conforms to culture. Christians of every ilk set up idols of particular beliefs, polarizing themselves into camps of Correct and Incorrect.”

      It is worse than what Shawn says. Cultural defensiveness is often the litmus test as to whether we will believe what is being said about God. Historically, the culture of the day has dictated the Christian’s acceptance of political choices, regional beliefs, and the temptations at hand within the era the culture is part of. We have in some cases made the Christian faith no more than a social club to be part of because the people are nice and pleasant to be around. The church will never get permission from the world to bring God’s righteous standard to a culture that welcomes vice and iniquity as normal behaviour. The world system is corrupt, and calling something evil as being good, is its default setting. Isa. 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness to light and light to darkness, who replace bitter with sweet and sweet with bitter.

      The amalgamation that the body of Christ and the present-day culture bring together, has hindered the power of the Holy Spirit to move freely within the hearts of believers. Vexing the Holy Spirit with what we deem as culturally acceptable does not bring freedom to our souls because God will resist our acceptance of sin. This attitude has produced an immature Christian who excels in self-righteousness and lives by an insipid doctrine of tolerance toward anything that sounds like a homily. 2Tim. 3:5 Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real. Don’t have anything to do with such people. Do not make holy covenants with people who do not put Jesus first in their hearts.

      The Apostle Paul pleaded with the Galatians to rethink their direction and the cultural choices they were making because they were going backwards in their faith. Those who were teaching the erroneous doctrines of salvation by working the laws of self-righteousness were creating a culture that had deceived the Galatians into thinking they could earn a place on God’s board of directors, (paraphrased) while still living the life of what was socially acceptable. Gal. 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. The cultural norms had wormed their way into their hearts and they began accepting philosophies that would distort the simple message of salvation in Christ. Gal. 3:3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

      What this type of self-righteous dogma does to a soul, is create a survival of the fittest religiosity that results in the cruelties and butchery of the Crusades, or the brutal torture of the Inquisition. It allows carnal choices to be made in the name of God, and within a short period, an idea like the Holocaust becomes a reasonable solution to a certain cultural group. You cannot wash your clothes in filthy water and expect them to come out clean and fresh. Yet this is what mankind does when they compromise their Christian faith so they can be accepted in the culture of the day, or they bring the current culture into their interpretation of which scripture they will accept. Culturally processing their personal salvation plan through all the filth of human philosophy and then wondering why they do not feel clean of heart nor have peace of mind. Gal. 3:1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross.

       Self-righteousness normally creates a maladroit culture that exists just outside the boundaries of God’s kingdom. It looks religious, but this existence will not bring anyone into the presence of God. On the contrary, it ensures they continue to flounder in self-deception. It’s like the nations who lived around the encampment of Israel and could see the Tabernacle in the wilderness from afar but had no way of entering the protection that God’s presence offered those who lived within the camp. The warnings that God gave the Israelites to not be like the people of Canaan are still the same instructions we are to follow today. Lev. 18:3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. The culture of Canaan was cruel and horrific and God made it clear that there would be no mixing of these carnal practices while ministering to God.

      True intimacy with God produces relational responsibility and a heartfelt desire to please the Lord. Similarly, when we express love to our spouses, we try to give them what makes their hearts glad and brings joy to their souls. Unlike becoming intimate with a wrong life partner whose attraction is mainly superficial, and all the enflamed emotions are hot and salacious in the first days of cohabitation, but later on, sadness and disappointment are the state of being because the love is not genuine of heart. Someone rightly said, “If you marry a child of the devil you are going to have problems with your father-in-law.” You cannot serve two masters. We, the body of Christ, need to live in the culture of God’s kingdom and set the standard for all cultures to gravitate and eventually become part of the Lord’s loving gift of salvation. Our Heavenly Father must become the banner we live under. Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is my banner. Ex. 17:15 Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means “the LORD is my banner”). His banner over us is love, and the culture of God’s kingdom has no cruelty within it.

      At this time in our history, there is a vicious battle for the mind and the ownership of the culture’s soul. Christianity would be an attractive choice if more Christians lived as Christians, and were not hell-bent on becoming spokesmen for the trends of society that draw Christians away from the foundational truth of the Gospel of Christ. If you have a passion for a particular segment of society that needs help, make sure that what that society stands for is not contrary to God’s purposes and righteousness, or you will find yourself fighting against God, and that is a lose-lose situation.

      Christ is the cornerstone of the culture that Christians abide by. We are the living stones in the Lord who are building the spiritual house of God through Christ. We cannot do this by bringing the corrupted culture of the world into God’s holy building project. We have a mandate to keep cultural cruelty out of our testimony of love. 1Pet. 2:4 As you come to Him, a living stone — rejected by people but chosen and honored by God —  5 You yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. This we will do when we seek God with all of our hearts.

 

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