Garry continued the Bible study on culture wars which initially started with looking at Paul’s revolutionary request to Philemon that he should welcome former slave Onesimus back into his household as a fellow brother in Christ rather than as a slave treated as a possession or commodity. We live in our cultures for so long that we often do not perceive what is unbiblical in our everyday surroundings. We need to spend time seeking God so that we can see Him afresh, slowing down and having a ‘rooted attentiveness’ to Him so that we can be effective in our culture. Daniel, a prophet in exile living in a culture that clashed violently with his religious origins, “prepared himself for inner revelation through a lifestyle that was courageous and counter-cultural.” (Charlie Cleverly, ‘Epiphanies of the Ordinary’) We need spiritual disciplines (including prayer and fasting) if we are to find out what God wants and what is wrong with our cultures.
All around us, we see the consequences of wrong teaching and wrong thinking (often made visible in extreme violence, such as the Columbine High School massacre, which was the ‘logical’ consequence of the nihilistic teachings embraced by the killer.) We need Biblical revelation to show us the truths of God’s kingdom. John Stonestreet has said “Too often… we treat our faith as just one more item on our to-do list. But if Christianity is true, it’s the central framework for everything, the grid that overlays all of life… Christianity gives us a map to reality, an outline of the world the way it really is: God’s moral and physical order.”
Christians have exchanged citizenship of earth for citizenship of heaven and as such we live in an awareness of the clash between these two cultures or kingdoms every day. We have been ‘saved from death to live presently in a new society under the rule and reign of Jesus’ (Michael Craven). We now live following the way of the Cross, living according to the principles of a kingdom where the first shall be last and the way to life is through sacrifice and death.
Micah 6:8 offers us insight into how God wants His people to live: ‘He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly (prudently) with your God.”
God loves justice and urges us to follow this, even if it means being at odds with our culture (Ex 23:2). Justice should not be affected either by showing partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great (Lev 19:15). We need to show justice even to the foreigner or fatherless (Deut 24:17). Combining justice (doing the right thing) with showing mercy (a combination Jesus reflected in His everyday interaction with people, but which we often find difficult to balance!) is our goal. We need to know the truth (which sets us free) and act accordingly, doing what is right because that is the way God works, even if that means personal loss or persecution.