Matthew 20:26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.
God's ways are so much different than our ways ... they are higher and more sacrificing than our ways:
Isaiah 55 8”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord, 9”as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
When we think about our ways, it is our culture (including our family upbringing) that really sets the pace of how we behave and act as an adult. What we allow to influence us is what eventually will become a part of us that will set the course of our lives. Culture is not a good guide, nor is it a good teacher. What culture promotes teaches us how to dress, how to talk, and how to think. Recently, I was at the Minnesota State Fair and noticed how all the people were cultural icons of each other. We love to belong and fit in, and I understand that to a point, but when it affects our internal belief system of values, it has gone too far.
In my ministerial life, I have had to remind my audience (the church) about the issue of compromise. Culture is a powerful influence, and without really being aware you can adopt things into your life that are not profitable to your spiritual life. Let’s first start with the principle, “You cannot know God, and live apart from His Word.” Knowledge of God means you know Him by complying with His Word. Jesus said if you love Him, you will keep His commandments. There is a direct correlation between knowing God and obeying His Word. Living with the idea you know God, simply by deciding to accept the plan of salvation but failing to live according to His Word, is a breach of your commitment to Him. When someone says they know God, they are saved, but they violate God’s Word by the way they live which the Bible says makes them a liar:
1 John 2:4 If someone claims, 'I know God,' but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.
Again, I come back to the principle, “You cannot know God, and live apart from His Word.”
The church has a two-fold ministry, which has never changed over the ages:
1. Tell people about Jesus … this is evangelism.
2. Teach people how to live according to God’s Word … this is discipleship.
Yes, it is that simple.
If we claim to know God, our commitment is to always pursue Him and protect ourselves from the cultural influences that steals, robs, and destroys God’s Word in our lives. We have all heard the saying, “We are in the culture (world) but we are not of the world.” Culture is not our friend … it is the enemy of God. You cannot love this world and be a friend of God because culture wants to replace God in your life. I love the way the Phillips translation puts it in James 4:4:
“You are like unfaithful wives, flirting with the glamour of this world, and never realizing that to be the world’s lover means becoming the enemy of God! Anyone who deliberately chooses to love the world is thereby making himself God’s enemy. Do you think what the scriptures have to say about this is a mere formality? Or do you imagine that this spirit of passionate jealousy is the Spirit he has caused to live in us? No, he gives us grace potent enough to meet this and every other evil spirit, if we are humble enough to receive it. That is why he says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
That is a great way of putting it … ‘flirting’ with the glamour of this world. You can go to church, even read your Bible, but if you live in such a way that you flirt with this world, you are flirting with the enemy of God. If a spouse flirts with the opposite sex it may be an indication there are some unmet needs in the marriage or a character flaw in the flirting spouse. Some people may say that flirting is nothing more than playful banter, but I say it is playing with fire, and eventually flirting can become a serious lapse of judgment, and flirting now has transitioned into an affair. This same process is true with the believer in Christ and the culture he or she lives in. Flirting with culture can and will eventually turn deadly. Let me remind you that culture is an enemy of God. No soldier in war flirts with the enemy. Why? It is obvious the enemy cannot be trusted and will overpower and kill you.
The phrase, “but with you it is different” is an important thought to remember. With you it is different, you are different because you follow Christ. You think differently, you act differently, and you pursue a different emphasis than what the culture promotes.
So, that is my point. Your emphasis is different, you are different, and you have to be comfortable with that or you will be seduced into the compromise of culture.
To be a follower of Christ, you are different and that difference is pleasing to God.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler