It is always amazing how quickly things can change. We are currently living through a time of change on a number of different levels. These times of change are often filled with confusion, frustration and even anger. I am reminded that, for the follower of Jesus, while the culture may change, the Creator does not. It is He who calls His followers to rise above those challenges.
I am always amazed by the accounts of Jesus’ life from the Gospels. I am amazed at what Jesus said and did, and I am more amazed at what He did not say and did not do! Jesus lived in a world much like our world is becoming. It is interesting that He rose above the issues of the times. I am amazed that He refused to take the bait on cultural issues of that day like divorce, taxation, foreign oppression, and even alternative lifestyles. What He did do was keep the focus on the good news and treat people with dignity. It is here that I believe we discover a secret for rising above the culture wars. Keep the message on what really matters, Jesus!
The Apostle Paul, who was known for his ministry all over the Roman world, tells us that he adopted a similar approach to touching people. He writes to those living in the decadent city of Corinth, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:3–4) Paul is not talk about binding demons, as some wrongly interpret. He is simply stating that we do not “fight fire with fire.” We do not respond to the culture in the same way that it responds to us. Paul knew that we need to rise above the Culture challenges to effectively touch lives. The other thing that he points is that our spiritual weapons are much more effective than the physical ones. He reminds us of the power of knowing God’s truth and applying it in those difficult situations. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5) I picture a fortified castle that is conquered by speaking the truth in love. The Apostle Peter also understood this. He challenges God’s people saying, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15) Yelling and screaming may make you feel better but it accomplishes absolutely nothing. This also goes for social media rants…. Worthless. But minds are changed and hearts are penetrated when we treat others with dignity and speak the truth with genuine compassion. It is so easy to get sucked into the conflict. Just like Jesus, Paul and Peter we need to respond in a way that disarms the situations and addresses the real issues Biblically.
The simple truth is that people are people. The smartest man that ever lived reminds us that there is “nothing new under the sun.” Yes, our world is changing but the message of Jesus is timeless. It is what sets people free. We need to take advantage of those opportunities to speak truth into the lives of those that are willing to listen.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson