For the last two weeks, we have talked about the necessity for Christians to influence the culture without being influenced by that same culture. Daniel and his three friends have been our examples. They were immersed into a hostile culture but even in the midst of the pagan influences around them, they did not neglect their relationship with the God of Israel. As a result of these Israelite’s faithfulness, God was glorified and the culture was influenced for righteousness sake. This is a good thing and it should be the goal of Christ’s church today. We should still be standing up for righteousness and revealing Christ to those who are either indifferent or hostile to the message we hold so dear. Christ can still speak into the culture around us, through us, and transform it.
Our problem today is that we often have a difficult time defining the culture. We live in a major metropolitan area, so we understand that there are differences in cultures. We see people from all different tribes and tongues on a regular basis. We see women wearing burkhas, reflective of a conservative Muslim culture. I’ve seen an alarming number of bumper stickers like this one that point to a dramatic shift towards religious pluralism and universalism. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to know that Muslims and Pluralists are probably not going to be the best of friends, in fact they are diametrically opposed to one another. But tn the Christian worldview, they are all a part of the same anti-Christian culture. This is exactly the point that Jesus made in Matthew 25 as he told of the day he would separate the sheep from the goats. It is this anti-Christian culture that we are called to reach with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We’re to tell goats how they can become sheep.
This is what this discussion of cultural engagement is all about. We must be willing to cross the line to engage the other side. It’s not at all easy. Many times it is not convenient. We’re not to cross sides to try out their religions or indulge our flesh with their decadent offerings, rather to plead with them to turn to Jesus. Only Jesus can change the culture, but we must be deliberate in introducing the lost culture around us to the One who can save them.
The truth is that they’re not going to find it on their own. Goats do not instinctively know how to become sheep. Paul makes this point in Romans 10:14, “…how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” If we are to stop the shift in our culture, we are going to have to be all the more deliberate with the Gospel.
But before we can ever get to that place, we must become a people of prayer. This is the message of Daniel 2. Daniel and his friends find themselves in the middle of an increasingly hostile culture. It is so hostile that their lives are in danger. But they don’t huddle up and hide from the danger. They tackle it on their knees. And God proves once again that He is faithful to his culture warriors.
Praying for you,