Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
The gospel makes all the difference between whether you are merely conservative or whether you are conquering worldliness in the power of the Spirit for the glory of Christ or whether you are flowing along with the cultural tide. What does it look like when the Christ governs the TV and the Internet and the iPod, iPad, iPhone, and the bank account, and the clothes we wear? Have you ever asked yourself this question?
All of the things I’ve just mentioned: TV, movies, music, technology, bank accounts, and clothes, may be filed under one category: culture. A good definition of culture is: “a set of values broadly shared by a population of people.” Culture is where we live. We’re surrounded by it. We move in it. As believers, we’re called to minister in it. When it comes to culture, we can take one of the following positions.
- Culture-fleers – This position sees culture as largely evil, and everything possible must be done to insulate one’s self from the culture. Any association with culture is viewed with skepticism, ridicule, and contempt. What’s wrong, if anything, with this position? It’s impossible to evade the culture. Try and remove yourself from culture if you want, but it will find you. Like it or not, culture is a part of our lives, from language, to clothing, to customs, and laws. There is no escape!
- Culture-deniers – This position sees culture as no problem. Those who hold to this position embrace the culture with little to no reservations, denying that it has any impact on their lives. What’s wrong, if anything, with this position? Many of our culture’s assumptions are in direct conflict with biblical teaching. To simply “go with the flow” of culture very often means to go against God’s word.
- Culture-engagers – This position sees culture as the place where the Great Commission is fulfilled and the Great Commandment practiced. The Great Commission is what and where? (Matthew 28:18-20 – faithful witness) The Great Commandment is what and where? (Matthew 22:36-40 – faithful follower)
This is the position which we should have. We must engage our culture; not run from it, hide from it or deny its influence, and we must also not love it or imitate it. We engage it because we love Christ, and Christ has given us a commission and a commandment that requires us to be culture-engagers, since every single person we try to reach with the gospel is embedded in the culture; without exception. While engaging the culture with the gospel we must keep the proper perspective. Culture, every culture, has and will pass away, but our Lord is forever and He has left us in this culture for a reason: to be salt and light in a dying world.
We must be cautious, and keep in mind the Apostle Paul’s word from Ephesians 5:15: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” In other words, be wise not unwise, and walk carefully.
The only way to be useful to this world, eternally speaking, is to speak the gospel into it, but we will never be useful to the world if we are being shaped by it. You will be shaped by the world unless you make intentional efforts not to be. Look at Philippians 4:8 and let’s hear the standard to which the Apostle Paul calls us.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.”
That verse is one of my life verses. I want that to be true of me, and I must make intentional effort, enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to think on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Likewise, I have to make intentional effort, enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to not think on whatever is untrue, dishonorable, unjust, impure, unlovely, deplorable, inferior, and anything unworthy of praise.
We need to understand what God’s word has to say regarding this world and our involvement in it; specifically, how we are to resist the seductions of the world and, instead, speak the gospel into it. We are to live and minister in the world but not have a love for the world. We know this from one long section of Christ’s High Priestly prayer from John 17:11-19.
“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we [are]. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”
The word “world” is littered throughout that section of Christ’s prayer. Our Lord acknowledges that we are in the world, and that He has given us His word. He says that the world hates us. Why? Because we are not of this world, just as Jesus is not of this world. He also prayed that we would not be taken out of this world, but that we would be kept from the evil of it. The way we are protected from the world, while not being removed from it, is by being sanctified by the truth, and God’s word is truth.
What is this “world” we are not to love? It is the system which is under the control of Satan and actively hostile to God. By “system” I simply mean an arrangement of things (i.e. the “sports” world or the “political” world), and we could also call that “culture”. The second term is “worldliness;” which being defined is: loving this fallen world – the system opposed to God – more than God. Anything that keeps us from loving God as we should, and from doing God’s will as we ought is worldliness.
Be wise about your culture. You are in it, but not be saturated with it. You are called to minister in this culture, so use what you can use, but don’t forget Ephesians 5:15. Be wise, not unwise. Be careful how and where you walk, or, you could be careful with your use of social media. What follows is taken from this blog post. It’s excellent counsel.
Seven Social Media Do’s
- Announce events and teaching themes
- Link to helpful resources
- Encourage others
- Let people know a little about your life
- Share Scriptures and helpful quotes
- Ask for prayer for yourself and others
- Limit your time on networks
Seven Social Media Don’ts
- Post anything that you would fear being read at Church
- Engage ongoing conversations with the opposite sex
- Fish for affirmation or support
- Post ambiguous or manipulative statements
- Vent about Church matters or members
- Become combative or defensive
- Embarrass your family with comments or photos
We should also be careful of the subtle dangers presented to us in posting and viewing photos. Be wise. Show discernment in the pictures you post on social media, and be just as careful with the pictures you view. Sometimes Facebook photos seem like self-portrait on steroids! It’s so easy to post hundreds of pictures of yourself! Why wouldn’t people want to see you in every possible pose? We must not allow Facebook photos to become an outlet for self-absorption.
A Social Media Prayer
Before using social media, offer this prayer: “Let the words of my mouth (or my fingers on the keys), and the meditation of my heart (or the photos I post and look at), be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)