Mahatma Gandhi once said, “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.”
How troubling a reality that is, while we seemingly watch helplessly as the insurgence of evil continues to perpetuate itself across this nation. When we examine our current political and social landscape it’s hard to even fathom this country was established upon “certain unalienable rights”. What rights? “…that all men are created equal…” and we all have the right to pursue “…Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The world you and I live in is very different from the world we lived in 20 years go. Everything has shifted from PRINCIPLE to PREFERENCE.
When I was growing up there were still concepts like right and wrong. There were principles you lived by because they were moral, and I didn’t even grow up in the church.
Culture has begun to drastically change and now it’s influence reaches beyond just the world around us and has begun to influence the religious world.
Across the ranks of religion, style rather than substance seems to be the new norm. In a world infatuated with personality, the religious world has quickly followed suit. Motivational speakers parade around as preachers, churches resemble night clubs and the Christians are impossible to detect from the sinners.
How do we counteract culture and be the kind of church that God had in mind? We have to get back to the basics. A couple of ways:
(1) The Church is NOT a Political movement.
Please don’t misunderstand me. We, as Christians, have an obligation to stand against sin. In every fashion. Racism. Prejudice. Stealing. Murder. Etc. Etc. With that said, the church was NEVER designed to be a political movement. In fact the reason the Jews missed that Jesus was their Messiah was because they WANTED a political leader, not a spiritual leader.
Yes, politics affect the church. Yes, we have a spiritual obligation to prayerfully vote for political candidates that help us do our mission of preaching the Gospel. However, the pulpit is NOT, nor should it ever be, a platform to voice our political persuasions.
When the Church first got started, it was a grassroots movement of working class citizens in an occupied nation in a small corner of the Roman Empire. But as more people were added to the Church, the Church began to increase in influence and power. It WAS NOT their political clout that gave them their revival. It was their SPIRITUAL connection to prayer that did.
(2) The church is NOT in a war with the world.
I know this seems blasphemous, but hear me out…
You’ve probably heard this at some point: The world is evil, and the Church has to stand up against that evil. People like to use the phrase “in the world, but not of the world” to insist that the Church is supposed to protect itself from the world.
But the Church isn’t opposed to the world. Church isn’t an “us vs. them” game. To the contrary, Church is an “us for them” game. We’re supposed to serve and advocate for the people in the world. We want to share the Gospel with them. We want to affirm people as valuable and loved, and we want to help people come into a better relationship with God. That doesn’t happen if we treat the world like an adversary we protect ourselves from.
Living a holy life is not supposed to keep people out of the church, or out of your life. It’s supposed to be a bridge to bring people in. You should radiate so much of God’s goodness, love, and holiness that people WANT to be like you. They WANT to be a part of your church. They WANT to be your friend. They should trust you because you are so much like HIM!
(3) The church is NOT supposed to be comfortable.
If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that most of Christianity is uncomfortable without their traditions and routines. We go to Church and we sing songs we like, talk to people who think like us, and listen to someone tell us things about God and the Bible that we already agree with. Church is comfortable.
The early church wasn’t comfortable. They continuously stretched themselves and placed themselves in uncomfortable positions. They sent out missionaries… they sent out preachers to plant churches… they sent money and other resources to other churches that were in need. At one point, everyone gave up ALL of their possessions just to help the Gospel move forward!
I’m not saying we have to go to extremes… I am saying that GROWTH happens in DISCOMFORT!
What if the chaos, the violence, the injustice, and the disunity of our society was really just Romans 8:22 and “the whole creation [is crying out in] groans and travails in pain together until now.”? What if “all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.” -Romans 8:19?
If we want to make a difference in our world, it won’t be through keyboard warriors… it will be through prayer warriors. If we want to change the climate of our world, it won’t be through city counsel meetings.. it will be through prayer meetings. Our political influence and our political power pale in comparison to the influence and the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Psalms 119, the Psalmist cries “It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.” One translation says, “It is time, O LORD, to do!”
That word void in Hebrew is the word parar (paw-rar’) meaning to make ineffective or to disannul. To disannul something literally means to cancel, or to void.
What the Psalmist was exclaiming was not that the culture demanded revival; but that the church demanded revival. The Psalmist wasn’t moved by what he saw OUT THERE (the world)… he was moved by what he saw IN HERE (the church).
And he rose up in prayer and said, “It is time for you to deal with this Lord, because they have made your word ineffective!”
10 doubtful spies, overlooking God’s promised land, gave a negative report. Their unbelief made God’s word ineffective… All they had to do was BELIEVE God at His word.
How long will we wander around in our state of unbelief? How long will we wander about allowing the voices of culture and cynicism to shackle us to reality? How long before we decide to BE who God has called us to BE?
The President of the United States can’t save this country. A church on fire can. Let’s stop talking about the church; let’s BECOME the church.