There are a host of dangers infiltrating the Church in the US today, and they are particularly troublesome because they influence those who are not grounded in and led by the Word of God. It has long been understood that cultural change can be controlled through a command of the language. For those with less knowledge of history, and a tendency to emotionally react rather than critically think, they will be swayed, “blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Eph 4:14). But those who view life through the consistent truths in the Word of God, will not be easily swayed!
I have heard from several Christian leaders that we are to “begin our day with a newspaper in one hand and a Bible in the other”, and although I understand the sentiment, I also see it as dangerous and misleading. God’s Word, as the Creator’s Manual, is to be the guide for life and filter through which I see everything else, and therefore it is to come FIRST, and not be put on par with anything else! You can often tell which “Christian” circles really let the cultural values define their reality, and which do not.
I cannot go exhaustively into each category, but I wish to address a few secular concepts that have infiltrated Christian circles and threaten to undermine foundational, Biblical categories. Approach cautiously! Terms such as “social justice”, “racism”, “white privilege”, and “intersectionality”, MAY have a basis somewhere in society, but they can also draw us away from our primary identity as people created in the image of God, and servants of Jesus Christ. It may also draw us away from our primary mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in favor of social equality. Although there are justice issues found in the Bible, most of which impact social areas, the scriptures never assume that there is to be perfect economic equality, but rather, the Church is to hold loosely to material possessions and share freely with one another, especially the poor. Not the government’s job, but the local church!
The Bible always prioritizes the eternal condition of freedom from sin and a right standing before God over temporary, social ills which will always exist, this side of heaven, in every generation! This included slavery, and the racial, economic, and gender divides which permeated their day. Rich and poor, slave and master, male and female Christians: They were ALL to come together in the churches and partake of the same Lord’s Supper! I will use the Paul’s letter to the Colossians as an example: Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:11) There were no “black churches” or “white churches” preaching different messages, but their distinctions lay in their locations. There were no “reparations” demanded, as they largely recognized their equal standing before God and in heaven! This transformed their society and the Roman empire, as many saw Christians living radically united by the Gospel!
We do not make excuses for our past, but neither are we to be enslaved again by them! The past is put away by Christ’s forgiveness: Colossians 2:13 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
THIS is the foundation for unity, and the only hope for our world. Yet we live in a world that actually seeks to divide us, and their only “unity” is found in their rebellion against their Creator! Think of it! The L-G-B-T-Q-+ “community” – they’re all bound by fundamentally different notions of identity. Yet they are “united” in their quest for to eliminate any voices that point to God’s standard for sexuality, the standard that produces life, and strong, committed families.
This is not a perspective that I use to protect my “position of power”, as a beneficiary of “white privilege”. I had many years of experience preaching the same message as a minority in Japan! Although we can gain much through dialogue with people of other cultural experiences, at the heart of it all is God’s Absolute Truth; in fact “ALL truth is God’s Truth”. We don’t need to shrink back and be ashamed of His Revelation. We MUST be grounded IN it, if anything, to recognize the counterfeits of false teaching that seek to creep in all the time, in an ever-changing world.
He is the Truth that we point to, and the reason by which we can go to any person of any culture, with any experience, and give them the same blessed hope of the Gospel! So I seek to live out the implications of my primary identity, as God’s Word in Colossians 3:12 & on teaches: 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Meditate on it!