In a culture of self-realization, the Christian’s call is to renounce self; in the face of noise, silence is the preference; in a world of competition, the Christian’s declaration is that the winners will be the losers and the losers winners; in a culture whose economy is intent on consumption, the Christian insists on simplicity; in a culture structured by possessions, the insistence is upon detachment; in a culture intent on a high standard of living, the Christian insists upon a high standard of life; and at every point, the Christian exposes the emptiness of fullness for the sake of the gospel’s fullness of emptiness.
— W. Paul Jones, The Art of Spiritual Direction,
referenced in: Reuben P. Job (2013-10-24). A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God (Kindle Locations 2197-2203). Upper Room Books. Kindle Edition.
The title of this article may have led you to expect me to take a stand against abortion, homosexuality, divorce, or other manifestations of our fallen world. But I contend that the reason we have such fierce battles to fight on those fronts today is that we’ve failed to fight the real cultural battles like those quoted above.
Where God’s people demonstrate the fullness of lives lived in God’s power, many outside the church are drawn into God’s Kingdom. But when we blend in to our culture to the point that you can’t tell us apart there’s nothing to attract them.
It’s not the sins of the world that I grieve over as much as I grieve and repent over the sins of God’s people as we’ve failed to stand out as different and demonstrate His love as He calls us to do.
We have our successes, and we should celebrate those with gratitude to God and to the faithful saints who withstand cultural pressures with the grace, love, and truth that represent God well. Where the contrast between self-centered lives and Christ-centered lives is strong, two things happen: 1) Spiritual battles, struggles, and persecutions rage; 2) God wins those battles as the world witnesses His people standing strong in their midst. No battle, no victory.
But the battle we’re called to isn’t a power-play against the evils of society, but to follow the lead of Jesus:
“…crushing dissent violently and cruelly was itself anathema to the life of Jesus, who had not killed to protect the truth but on the contrary had freely died for the truth. He might well have forced those who crucified him to accept his teachings. That would have seemed the practical path. But he did not. Instead, Jesus freely suffered and died, and in doing so, he illustrated as eloquently as may be done that naked power was not the most powerful thing in the universe. On the contrary, truth itself was more powerful.”
Metaxas, Eric. Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (loc. 7968). Viking. Kindle Edition.
May we not run from the battles but humbly engage so that our lives illustrate the power of God’s truth.