“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” – John 15:19.
Peter Marshall said that ”If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” Sometimes, however, we spend more time and energy on what we are against, rather than what we are for. One of those areas is the culture we live and work in that is becoming less and less “Christian.”
Should Christians be counter cultural? It is easy to define yourself by what you are against, or what you see as having negative influence in your life. It’s figuring out what you are for that presents a real challenge. Northstar Church is an example. When we started Northstar, we wanted a different approach to church. We didn’t define who we would be by other churches. We did not focus on what other churches were or were not. Rather we invested our energy and passion on the church we wanted to be. So instead of reacting to something or standing against something, we learned how to live for something. That something is Jesus Christ. And that includes interacting with the culture of today as Jesus did in His time.
In the 24 hours surrounding Jesus’ execution, Judas, one of His disciples, betrayed Him, Peter denied even knowing Him. The religious elite were determined to find a reason to kill Him. The Romans carried out the execution and those who passed by mocked Him. But in that moment, Jesus showed humanity what it means to be for something.
We spend so much time trying to avoid culture and its influences. But what if instead of avoiding culture we focused on drawing closer to Jesus? I am not advocating that we let culture impact our walk with God. Obviously, we shouldn’t advocate or approve of anything that impacts our relationship with God. What I am saying is that our best defense or stance of against culture or sin in general is not to focus on what we’re against, but what we are for. It is simply keeping the first things first. Jesus, and nothing else, must be our “main thing” at all times. Our main emphasis must always be on the person and work of Christ. Even Paul the Apostle decided to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2). The closer we draw to Jesus, the more we begin to be molded into His likeness and the less culture will impact our relationship with Him.
- When and how should Christians react to popular cultural notions that contradict Scripture?
- Luke 15:1-2 says plainly that “sinners” made a habit of hanging around Jesus. Jesus was unapologetically a true friend to the least and the lost, to all who were alien to the religious communities of His day. He seemed to prefer parting ways with religious folks if that was necessary in order to get close to sinners. The one who “welcomed sinners and ate with them” now insists that His followers assume the same posture. How does that change our view of culture?
- What can we do this week to be more for Jesus?