We breathe culture. We do because society’s norms are all around us. Culture codifies acceptable conduct. And therein lies the problem. Culture is dictated by what man thinks. Therefore, we must be careful. The question becomes, “Are we breathing in man’s wisdom and norms, shaping how we act and think, which often runs counter to God’s wisdom and norms?” In varying degrees, we all do. Breathing is an automatic function. Like blinking, we do not think about it. We just do it.
So, if we are always taking in what culture defines as acceptable—regarding behavior, dress, entertainment, morality, language, and all the rest—what are we to do? How are we to assure we are not becoming culture’s disciple?
Succinct and blunt, we are to make sure we are becoming Jesus’ disciple. We are to breathe his truth. We are to be around his truth. The role of Scripture and church readily come to mind. Regular fellowship with like-minded believers is another place where we take in “cleaner” air.
And our homes are to be places where society’s norms stop at the front door. We are not talking about a Christianity that slaps a sign of Joshua’s “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” in the family room and call it good. Christian culture must permeate our homes.
In Mere Christianity CS Lewis points out a common pitfall, however:
Each of us would like some bits of it [Christian culture], but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing…We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself…Everyone is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest.
And that is the problem. The vacuum created by a “bits and pieces” Christian thinking is soon filled by the outside dominant culture. It is why some Christians music playlist is no different than “Johnny Pagan’s.” It is why some Christians dress is no different than “Sally Secular’s.”
When you inhale two different cultures, you exhale two different cultures. Let us be mindful of whose norms we are living.
Pastor Rich Hamlin
December 17, 2020