Christians and Culture
Christians and Culture
How can Christians remain faithful to Christ while living in a culture that is moving farther and farther away from God? In Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2008), Al Mohler outlines three inadequate responses before suggesting a preferred answer. I have labeled his responses in a way that makes them easy to remember.
The first possible response is ignorance. Christians can choose not to think seriously about the issues. This response is entirely inadequate. “Those who do not think seriously about how Christians should respond to these challenges will find that the dominant culture will simply pull them into its vortex,” says Mohler. “They will simply fail to live and think as Christians” (p. xii).
The second possible response is evasion. Christians can try to avoid the culture. This response is impossible. We speak the language of the culture. We shop in the stores of the culture. We have to abide by the laws of the culture. It is impossible to escape its influence. The culture shapes us and we can’t stop it from doing so.
The third possible response is acceptance. We can try to adopt the values and practices of the culture. This response is tragic because many aspects of our culture directly oppose the teachings of Christ. “We cannot accept the idea that we are what we consume and possess. We cannot accept the denial of human dignity that underlies this culture’s acceptance of the destruction of human life in the womb and in the laboratory. We cannot buy in to the cherished myth of autonomous individualism, and we cannot compromise with a worldview based on the assumption that truth is relative or socially constructed” (pp. xii-xiii).
The preferred response is loving influence. Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). This summarizes the Christian life. We cannot fulfill these two commands unless we attempt to understand the culture and lead it to change—the change the comes through Jesus Christ. Mohler writes, “We care for the well-being of our neighbors, and we want to see them come to faith in Christ. We care about marriage, sexuality, children, the dignity of human life, and a host of related issues because we love God first, and this leads directly to love of our neighbor—and our neighborhood” (p. xiv).
As the culture decays and darkens, Christians are the salt that halts the decay and the light that drives out the darkness (Matthew 5:13-14). Love for God coupled with love for our neighbor turned the world upside down in the first century (Acts 17:6). It can do the same in the twenty-first century.