Posts Tagged ‘western culture’

I was raised in a Christian home with two loving parents, two brothers and a sister.  We were taught (via word and deed) very traditional ideas about God, family, and life in general.  While these were my earliest influences, there came a time in my life that I began to challenge just about every one of those ideas.  I was not consciously trying to rebel, but I definitely wanted to see things for myself.  I didn’t have to go out, and seek the things of the world, all I had to do was live in the world with an “open mind”, and those things worked their way into me. 

I just listened to some music, watched some television, went to some movies, and read some magazines.  Nothing drastic, I lived a fairly typical life, and very subtly “evolved” in my thinking.  I remember thinking how the people who talked about things like “sex and violence in popular culture” sounded like alarmists; after all I was around all that stuff, and it wasn’t affecting me. 

It wasn’t until years later, when I came to an awareness of the emptiness within me that I considered something might need to change.  Shortly after that realization, the life that I had carved out collapsed, leaving me scrambling for a new reference point.  That is the period in which God became “real” to me. 

I went through a season where I found myself frequently alone, and cutoff from the routine of my former life.  As I read the Bible, I encountered many of the ideas that I’d been raised with, and I had to wonder when, and how I’d gotten so far away from that.  It was then that I began to recognize how wrong I had been about the affect that soaking in the popular culture was having on me.

The Bible warns that bad company corrupts good character, and that is largely viewed as a warning against hanging out with the wrong people.  While that is undoubtedly the main thrust of that passage, I’d submit that keeping company with the wrong ideas, and images is just as damaging; maybe even more so. 

In the Old Testament we see God tell the men of Israel not to marry foreign women, because their hearts will undoubtedly be turned to their foreign gods.  It was not the women themselves that were the issue, it was their ideas, and belief systems that God was trying to keep His people from. 

This was played out in dramatic fashion in the life of Solomon, whom God gave wisdom that was “as measureless as the sand of the seashore” and “greater riches… than all the other kings of the earth”.  Despite all of Gods favor, Solomon’s appetite for foreign women (700 wives, 300 concubines) caused his loyalty to become divided, as he built altars, and made sacrifices to the gods of his wives. 

To understand what a serious issue this was to God, consider the fact that despite King David’s adultery and murder, God assessed him to be a “man after God’s own heart”, while despite Solomon’s wisdom, and the splendor of the Temple he built, God angrily promised to tear the kingdom from his children. 

Solomon obviously thought that he could have it both ways, but God knew that ultimately it would cause him to become double minded.  While many of his actions had exalted God, his heart became separated from Him, and in the end the heart is all that counts.

God’s word tells us not to be conformed to the things of this world, and that in fact friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God.  I believe that many of us who call ourselves Christians have fallen into the same trap as Solomon did.  We believe that we can say and do some good things for God, and yet still be on good terms with the world around us. 

We can spend a couple of hours a week involved in “church stuff”, and maybe even pray or read our bible some; but then live just like our lost neighbors for the rest of the time.  We listen to the world’s philosophies, fill our ears with the world’s music, fill our heads with the images of the world, and think that somehow that isn’t coloring our perception of truth. 

It is like saturating a sponge with red fruit punch, and then trying to carry that sponge across a white carpeted room.  There is no way that it isn’t going to stain you, and get on everything that’s around you.  As we sit and watch seemingly harmless “entertainment”, our perceptions of the roles of men and women, of relationships, and of what is acceptable are being affected.  As we sit and watch infomercials, or the shopping channel, we’re encouraged to covet all the things we don’t have.  As we watch the news, our perception of reality is being affected, whether we believe it or not. 

An example of this is a group, which purportedly represented over 10,000 Christians, who came out with a document supporting the Theory of Evolution.  Their stated motivation was that “Creationism” (i.e. the literal interpretation of the biblical account of creation) just isn’t “good science”.  Their misconception was that the “Theory” of Evolution equated to “good science”.  If that were true, it wouldn’t still be a theory all these years after Darwin first developed it. 

In a laboratory a theory is put to the test, and if a consistent result cannot be derived, that theory is assumed to be at least incomplete, if not completely false.  Because of gapping holes within it, the theory of Evolution has not been proven, and as such should probably be classified as questionable science, if not “bad science”.  But we’ve been taught it as though it were fact for so long that many just assume that it must be. 

This is the same dynamic the Church succumbs to on other issues as well.  Gods’ word clearly says one thing, but what we see and hear going on around us is what we treat as reality.  God meant for His church to be an influence on the world, but in the western hemisphere the church seems to be taking its cues from the culture.  Whether it is the model for the family, marriage, divorce, sexuality…, the church appears to be trying to make itself more relevant to the world by adapting itself to the world’s beliefs. 

If our mission was to get people into the church building this approach might be helpful, but our mission is to “make disciples” of Jesus Christ, and this approach only serves to distort His image.

The Bible teaches that how a man thinks in his heart will dictate how he lives.  If our conception of manhood comes from things like John Wayne movies, or our conception of what a family is comes from shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond”, or our conception of men and women come from books like “Women are From Venus and Men Are From Mars”, or our conception of what success is comes from people like “The Kardashians”, or our conception of what charity is comes from people like “Oprah”, or our conception of what love is comes from things like “Romeo and Juliet”…, then we’ve been conformed to this world, and not transformed into the image of our God. 

Only our Creator can truly show us who we were made to be, only He knows what will fulfill us.  Only a God who yearns to have relationship with us can teach us about what He intended for relationships.  Only the God who “is love” can show us what real love is.  We need to quit looking to the world for reality and truth, because one day we will pass from the unreality of this life into the reality of eternity.

When that happens, only Gods point of view will matter, and the rest will have been nothing more than “chasing the wind”.  Like someone who’s had too much to drink, we can argue that we’re good enough to get ourselves home, but a simple blood test will reveal whether we are “under the influence”. 

At the end of this road there will be a traffic stop, and the results of that blood test will definitely be brought before the court.  On that day the man who has tried to make the best of both worlds will likely find that he’s made nothing of either of them.

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