Christ, The Culture, & The People of God
Cultural changes take place from generation to generation. The saddest part is the present generation knows nothing more than the current society in which they live. Some Christians today have a hard time relating in any way to the societies in the Old Testament. If you are raised in a society of political turmoil, immoral neighborhoods and humanistic ways, the temptation is increased to yield to that lifestyle through loosening the reigns of your values or fully participate in what others do.
God’s people have been and always will be influenced by their culture. Why is that such a concern? Go back and read with the cultural impact on Israel was in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in the lad of Canaan. Each environment in which they lived impacted their morals and decisions. Think about the society prior to the flood where “every imagination of the thoughts o his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). That culture had such an impact on the world, only eight souls were saved from the flood. It was because the technology and advancements of their society reached a level where man thought of himself as greater than God. There was idolatry and immorality at a stage never seen before by man. What did those cultures do to Abraham and Sarah, Lot and his daughters, Esau, etc.? It damaged their character. They yielded to the pressure of what was around them.
If you want a good picture of what a culture does to Christians, read the letters to the Corinthians. They tell of fornication, lawsuits, abused worship services, marital problems, misapplied religious teaching, pride, internal division, and the cross of Christ being exchanged for an elite view of life through philosophy and eloquence. The attempt to resolve the problems within the church were based upon position, prosperity, and prestige. No problem or questions in these books fails to reflect the influence of the culture.
Wonder why some churches would be considered the “Worldly Church” rather than the “Lord’s Church?” Would it not be because it looks more like the one in the “World’s Bible” than it does the “Holy Bible?” Is the answer to this dilemma the opposite of what Jesus requested regarding His disciples - “I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world...” (John 17:15). Would it not be better if Christians were removed from such evil circumstances? Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:10,11; 6:9-11, we cannot go out of the world, but he makes it clear we CANNOT bring the world into the church.
We are not able to change the world with pessimism. If that is our attitude, we will give up quickly. We will never warn people, teach people, and lead people if doubt and uncertainty fill our hearts. Compromises do not work either. One illustration from Charles Colson may help us: “I take comfort in the legend of the man who stood preaching at the gates of Sodom. ‘Why do you keep screaming at them, when they will never change?’ the old man was asked. ‘I keep screaming so they don’t change me.’”