If we are in the midst of a culture war, then the follower of Jesus Christ must indeed be the culture warrior. In a 2006 book entitled Culture Warrior, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly asserts this very point. O’Reilly suggests that America is in fact stuck in this culture war between what he calls secular progressives and traditionalists. For the record, the secular progressives are very much in control of our nation right now. The problem with secular progressives is that reject anything that has to do with traditional values and beliefs. This results in a head on collision with traditional Christian values which still places significance on marriage, family, gender roles, and absolute truth.
To be quite honest, this problem is incredibly challenging for the believer. We are left with countless moral dilemmas. One in the forefront of my mind is the abortion issue, especially as it pertains to the new healthcare reform bill. On many occasions, secular progressives have stopped amendments to the bill that specifically state that taxpayer funds will not be used to pay for abortions. Long term effects – your tax dollars may eventually be used to fund the murder of unborn children. What’s a Christian to do? I am afraid that I do not have an answer yet.
What we do know is that we are not the first generation to be engaged in a culture war. The people of God throughout the Old Testament were constantly engaged in a culture war. In the Book of Judges, there is a constant cycle of the Israelites compromising with the culture – God judging the Israelites – the Israelites repent – they live in peace for a time. In the times of the Israelite monarchy, three kings into the monarchy, Solomon begins a dangerous game of compromising with the culture. The result? A civil war, a divided nation, and the destruction of glory of Israel. When we read the book of Daniel, we also find that the people of God are engaged in a culture war, but the outcome is much different. Daniel chapter 1 introduces us to the story of 4 young men who would engage the culture, and with God’s help, they would thrive in the culture. There’s something for us to learn in this.
The reality for the Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is that they were in quite a cultural pickle. They couldn’t keep kosher. They may have not even been able to keep the Sabbath. They couldn’t go to the temple. They were having Babylonian language, literature, civics, and religion shoved down their throats. Talk about a culture war, these behaviors were critical parts of the Jewish religion. Taking them away would be like taking baptism away from a Baptist.
What happens to these men is absolutely critical for us today. They remained as faithful as they could in the midst of a hostile culture and God blessed their faithfulness. They didn’t compromise on their dedication to God. They may have had no choice on some things, but on the things that they knew were essential, they never budged, and as a result, God blessed them and protected them.
Christians today must understand the essentials. We must understand what we will silently endure and what we will die defending. Believe it or not, there are some hills worth dying for. Unfortunately, I think we’ve gotten confused in these two matters. Often times we argue and fight about nonessentials amongst ourselves while we pay little attention to the godless atrocities that are happening just beyond our walls. That may be why the church today is so anemic and ineffective. God doesn’t bless arrogance and apathy, God blesses obedience.
Seeking God’s Blessings,