Striving to Save the Culture
I Cor.9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
The Eternal God created the universe and all that is in it. And the crowning jewel of His creation was man who was made in His own image. When Adam and Eve were made God knew what was about to occur, although that was never His will. God does not play divine solitaire, and we are not just marionettes dancing just amuse He who pulls the strings. It is quite a mystery, however we were given a free will. To wind up a doll and have him repeat “I love you” simply because you’ve made him that way is not love. It's mimicry driven by machinery.
No, we are free not to love God and Adam was free to rebel against God. And this Adam did. And when sin entered the world through Adam, so did spiritual and bodily death. Man was now born a sinner and true to form as a sinner all men reveal their core character. Simply put, all men sin. And sin begets sin and sin builds upon other sins until man sins constantly and with clever creativity. Man became an inventor of evil things.
The entire world is engulfed in sin. Man runs to and fro to commit all kinds of sin. Lying, cheating, cursing, stealing, adultery, murder, and other obvious sins are committed both outwardly and within the hidden chambers of the heart. And self righteousness, hatred, greed, unforgiveness, lust, and any number of sins live and roam within the bosom of all men. And when men create a community and establish a culture it is, without exception, fallen. In other words, all human cultures are created to benefit their human creators, and they provide a platform for different kinds of sins.
The western culture in all its different forms has as its primary purpose to provide a place where men can be happy, prosperous, and enjoy earthly liberty. That sounds oh so good, however if you assess those goals juxtaposed upon the New Testament will find they are of the earth and designed for the happiness of man. The happiness of man is not the goal of a true follower of Jesus Christ. His goal is the glory of God. The two goals are completely incompatible.
Over these later years there has arisen a concept within the church that our goal is to save the culture which has been erroneously represented as more pristine and godly in years gone by. That is a relative comparison which ignores much of the sin, debauchery, and an array of other sins in the cultures of old. In fact, we are not those who compare ourselves with ourselves. Fallen is fallen, and there are no levels of fallenness where some are more godly and others are not. The painful truth is that every earthly culture is an enemy of God regardless of their moral construct.
God is not interested in creating moral cultures with all kinds of gods and religions that do not glorify Jesus. In fact, it is impossible to create a moral culture using immoral humans. The church itself is filled with sins of all kinds, so how can a community of believers and unbelievers construct a moral culture? They cannot. To think otherwise is humanism and in the tradition of the Tower of Babel. To be completely honest, if fallen humans could create a moral culture it would immediately generate a climate of self righteousness. In fact, the prevailing church in that climate would eventually turn into a self righteous house of redemption achieved through morality and other human works. Kind of like the church in America today.
But in spite of the obvious, and in spite of our Lord’s commission concerning the gospel, western evangelicals have taken it upon themselves to help guide the culture to a more moral plane. And many evangelical believers have espoused the lie that once upon a time this country was moral and that the “founding fathers” were guided by the hand of God to establish such. Armed with political leverage, the voting booth, and the “Judeo-Christian ethic”, the church seeks a sort of moral Carousel of Progress. Believing that we can change fallen man’s behavior through legislation, the church expends all kind of energy and money and earthly encouragement in order to change the culture.
And much of this change they desire is centered around money. This is most unseemly to be found in the community of faith. We who are exhorted to be content with food and clothing, are we now given unbiblical license to seek for that which is temporal at the expense of that which is eternal? There is no such thing as a cultural war. We are engaged in a spiritual war which is not about changing your environment or your pocketbook, this war is for the souls of men. And any other invented war is at the expense of the true war.
We cannot, we must not be swept into the moral melee and not only expend our energies cleaning the outside of men’s cups, but seriously misrepresenting the gospel of grace through faith. These distractions would be just a lack of focus if they were not so diabolically opposed to the mission of the Spirit. But it does make the flesh feel as though it is accomplishing something. The same believer who would never preach in the street, or hand out tracks at a bus station, or witness to their boss, that same believer though will get foaming at the mouth about liberals and the economy and the declining culture. How pathetic.
Can you imagine Jim Elliot going the Auca Indians of South America, and when he and his wife get there they realize the Indians are naked and barbaric and have no sense of any Judeo-Christian ethic. So instead of sharing the gospel with them, they go about trying to change their ways. They even set up a sort of democracy through which they hope to pass legislation that demands the Aucas put on some clothes. That is just as ridiculous as when believers here in America try and change the culture. And it would be good for us all to realize that lost sinners called Americans are just as pagan as lost sinners called Aucas.
But all in all, this new direction from the church robs God of the honor and glory of His everlasting gospel. It competes with the only way to eternal life and seeks to provide a gospel-less way to achieve some form of moral utopia. And in a stunning display of carelessness, it deceives the lost into believing that being morally compatible with Biblical commands is somehow redemptive and pleases God. Only he who comes to God in faith can please God regardless if you lived a remarkably moral life. And to bring the laws of the land into moral compliance only adds to the deception, unless the rise in morality is a direct result of many sinners being born again.
The gospel of Jesus Christ which represents the incredible sacrifice made in our stead must never compete with earthly ideals. The church must be singularly focused and reject all the trappings of earthly manipulations. Without Christ we can do nothing. Could our Lord be any more clear? And yet we bow to democracy and capitalism and openly reveal a heartfelt affection and allegiance to that which operates without Christ. Read the New Testament prophecies once again. Things will not get better. It is time to remove the grave clothes and come forth out of the tomb of culturalism and walk in the power of His resurrection.
Jesus is not one of a few hopes. He is the one and only hope for all mankind, and if the church continues to treat Christ and His gospel as a religious appendage, then sinners are doomed. But judgment will begin in the house of God.
That alone should awaken the fear of God in us all.