Christianity in a Culture in Crisis
America’s culture in 2023 is in many ways unrecognizable compared to the culture of previous generations. As a Christian, some things should bother you. God loves justice (Psalm 37:28) and righteousness (Psalm 146:8), so the godly should, too. The prevalence of unrighteousness and injustice in our country is appalling. In Zephaniah’s day, God warned His people against being too comfortable, or “stagnant in spirit,” (Zephaniah 1:12), and rather to “seek righteousness, seek humility,” (Zephaniah 2:3). But what does that look like for a Christian today? Jeremiah, a contemporary of Zephaniah, gives further instruction to the Jews shortly after they are taken captive by Babylon.
“Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and father sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may give birth to sons and daughters; and grow in numbers there and do not decrease. 7 Seek the prosperity of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord in its behalf; for in its prosperity will be your prosperity.” Jeremiah 29:5-7
The Lord’s instruction to His people who were forced to live in a morally corrupt culture was not to protest and riot and burn the place down, but to carry out their lives as normally as possible. As we would say it today, God’s people need to be “in the world, but not of the world.” Let’s consider a few other principles of Scripture that will help us live righteously in an unrighteous culture.
Love your neighbor. Romans 13:10 says “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.” It makes no difference who your neighbor is, Christians need to treat every human being with kindness and respect. Let’s not get so caught up in left and right that we forget there is an up and a down. When the Good Samaritan helped his neighbor in Luke 10, he asked no questions about the man’s identity, his voting record, what kind of flag he flew in his yard, or where he attended worship services. You can (and must) love your neighbor without always agreeing with them, (Luke 6:27-36).
Aspire to lead a quiet life. I Thessalonians 4:11 says “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we instructed you.” There are probably a lot of things you would like to change that are beyond your control. Life presents you with an infinite amount of ways to waste time and become a busybody. Distractions call for your attention at every turn. Never forget that you are heaven-bound, and put your focus and energy on spiritual matters that align with that goal.
Speak up for what is right. Proverbs 31:8-9 says “Open your mouth for the people who cannot speak, for the rights of all the unfortunate. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the poor and needy.” In your effort to lead a quiet life, there are times you must speak up. II Timothy 2:25 shows us the need to correct “those who are in opposition.” Ephesians 5:11 says “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” We do not need to give our opinion on every issue, as our “ambition,” after all, is “to lead a quiet life.” However, when the opportunity presents itself, do not hide your light under a basket, but rather let it shine for people to see so that God may be glorified, (Matthew 5:14-16).
This culture, just like the rest of the world, is temporary. In Zephaniah 3, God promises to save the remnant of His people who remain faithful to Him. The dominant culture of the day will always try to influence you to conform. As a faithful child of God, your aim is to be transformed, not conformed, (Romans 12:2) The promise of eternal salvation remains for all those who remain faithful to God despite the influence of the world around them.