Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Under The Influence

The ways of the prevailing culture whether American, Chinese, Polish or Indonesian—its assumptions, its values, its methods of going about its work—are never on the side of God. Never.1

As followers of Jesus we are called and challenged to be countercultural; in the world but not of it. Of course, culture is unavoidable and thus we cannot, in fact we probably should not, try to rid ourselves of it entirely. ("Uncultured For Jesus" seems a bit ill-conceived, does it not?)

Nevertheless, Christ-followers must guard against being unduly influenced by the assumptions, values, and methods of the world.

Two areas where Christians are currently too heavily influenced by culture immediately come to mind.

The first is media. We are drowning in it. Information and misinformation abound. I always think of Mark Twain’s quip: “If you don’t read the newspapers you are uninformed. If you do read them you are misinformed.”

What would he say today?

I am increasingly convinced that media hurts more than helps. What if we spent more time with scripture than news? 

We have to break the ignorant and faithless habit of letting the journalists of the day tell us what is going on. We need at least to give Isaiah equal time: Holy, Holy, Holy.2

Dear reader, who is a surer guide for navigating the minefields of society than Jesus? Do you think He has more wisdom than popular pundits? 

The second area of concern is politics. When we are euphoric or suicidal over who wins elections, we are imbalanced. Overreactions from Statists (Left and Right) are to be expected. But why the hysteria from those who claim to follow Christ?

Friends, politicians are no more qualified than pundits to tell us how or what to think.

The times in which we live are not definitive for our lives. The kings and presidents who lead us don’t have the last word (and certainly not the first!) on how we live our lives.3

Yet many Christians simply mirror the culture when it comes to all things government. They cede way too much influence to kingdoms of the world.

Jesus reveals a better Way.

He says we should give to Caesar what is his (tax money) and to God what is His (everything else).

Said another way, your money bears the image of your government; you bear the image of your God.

He tells us and He shows us.

Jesus ignored the whole business. Jesus spent His life walking down roads and through towns dominated by Herod’s policies, buildings shaped by Herod’s power, communities at the mercy of Herod’s whims. And He never gave them the time of day. . . . He lived as if Herod had never existed.4

So who influences you the most? I mean really.

1Eugene H. Peterson, “The Jesus Way,” p. 126
2Ibid, p. 134
3Ibid, p. 132 
4Ibid, p. p. 202, 204

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