John 15:18-19 (NIV)
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
As Christians, we know that we are in this world, but we are not to be of this world. The Bible teaches us that while we are in this world, our citizenship is in Heaven. We are often referred to as “pilgrims” or “travelers” on this planet. As members of God’s family, our identity is rooted in what He says about us and the lives that He has called us to live.
This idea plays out in our physical lives frequently. You’ve probably been on a vacation before. Whether you went to another state or another country, you booked somewhere to stay. However, that place was not your home. Even if you enjoyed attractions, dining options, and shopping, you were not a resident of the place that you were vacationing. You are a citizen of the state or country where you live, not the place where you’ve gone for a trip.
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While we are in this world, we are not called to “absorb” the culture like we do when we travel. While we live in this society and we observe its laws, we know that our true calling is to be ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, many Christians believe that this truth means that we are called to completely shelter ourselves, cutting ourselves off from culture.
God doesn’t want us to hide from our culture. Instead, He has called us to influence it. Today, find out more about how God wants His people to impact the culture around us. We can look at some of the most prominent teachings of our society to find how they contradict God’s Word.
The Pursuit of Wealth
1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NIV)
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
This passage is one of the most misquoted Scriptures in the Bible. It doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil. Instead, it says that the love of money is a root of different kinds of evil. However, there is no denying that doing anything to get ahead financially is one of the cornerstone principles of our culture.
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Being a Christian doesn’t mean that you don’t try to create a better life for yourself and your loved ones. However, it does mean that you don’t allow the pursuit of money to be the driving force in your life. Instead, the Bible teaches us that God will supply our needs according to His riches in glory. While the Bible says that we should work hard and earn our wages, pursuing wealth is not supposed to be the most important thing to a Christian.
How can Christians counter this sort of secular ideology? This is done through the way that we live our lives. Do you give freely? Do you support outreach programs in your community, or do you hoard up your money so you can have more? Are you willing to lie to get ahead at work? Do you think it’s acceptable to cheat the company out of a little time? If so, you’re falling prey to the culture instead of trying to change it.
Let’s Talk About Sex
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NIV)
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
The topic of sex can certainly make people uncomfortable. Unfortunately, that discomfort has led to a lot of people steering clear of preaching and teaching on it. The Bible talks about sex. In fact, the Bible talks about sex a lot. God created sex when He made Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When He told them to “be fruitful and multiply,” He knew exactly how that process would work.
Our modern society has a secular, perverse outlook on sex. As Christians, we are called to stand in complete contrast to these ideas. Culture failing to apply God’s teachings on the topic isn’t a new problem. Obviously, Paul had to write to the Church in Corinth about the issue thousands of years ago.
Our culture teaches us that we should “explore our sexuality,” and “do what feels good to you.” There is nowhere in Scripture where we are called to do the things that please our flesh. In fact, in 1 John 2:16,we learn that the “lust of the flesh” is in opposition to God.
Christians are called to sexual purity. Sex is to be shared between a husband and wife. While the culture that we live in teaches us that “sex sells,” and that we should “enjoy our bodies,” that’s not God’s idea at all. Maintaining sexual purity is one of the most powerful ways that we can impact the culture around us. When others find out about your commitment to sexual purity, they will realize that you live a life that is set apart.
Does the Bible Talk About Racism?
Acts 10:34-35 (TPT)
Peter said, “Now I know for certain that God doesn’t show favoritism with people but treats everyone on the same basis. It makes no difference what race of people one belongs to. If they show deep reverence for God, and are committed to doing what’s right, they are acceptable before him.”
Race relations are one of the biggest hot-button topics in our culture today. As is the case with sex, this isn’t a new issue. In our own country, issues that revolve around race have been a problem since the 1700s. Throughout the 1900s, the Civil Rights Movement saw people from all races come together to try to create a society that didn’t judge people based on color. Tragically, there are people in 2023 who still can’t seem to get this idea right. However, hope is not lost for those people. God can still make a change in them.
In the passage that we just read, Peter said, “Now I know for certain that God doesn’t favor certain people, and it makes no difference what race of people one belongs to.” That means that Peter didn’t know that before. In fact, before this sermon, Peter refused to share the Gospel with people who weren’t Jewish. Peter didn’t like Gentiles, and he considered them “unclean.” In the same way that God can change hearts today, He changed the heart of Peter.
God made a change in Peter’s life, calling the most outspoken of the disciples to take the Gospel to everyone, regardless of their race. God is clear about the fact that He doesn’t want His people divided by anything, including race. This should be one of the easiest steps for us to take, as the love of God dwells inside us.
As God’s people, we must not view people through the lens of race. Instead, if they show reverence for God, they are your brothers and sisters in Christ.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help me to be someone who changes the culture around me. While I know that I can never change the entire world, I can allow You to change those around me through my willingness to follow You. In Christ’s name, Amen.