"The Christian and the Culture"
December 1, 2023, 7:27 PM

The Christian and the Culture

Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Over the centuries of church history, many people have considered the dilemma living in Christ while living in this world. Jesus prayed for all those who are in Christ. “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one (John 17:14-15). Tertullian, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and others understood that believers are salt and light in this world. Augustine described the church and the world as two cities, the City of God and the City of Man. God’s revelation said about the end of the world at Christ’s return, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ’” (Revelation 11:15). Until then, the Church must live in this world but not be of the world. The church lives in a culture that often opposes God.

There are generally five views put forth and offered as help in understanding God’s will for the church to be holy while living in a godless culture. First, Christians are to live against the Culture. Second, some say that Christians should blend in with the Culture. Third, others maintain that Christians are above the Culture. Fourth, there is a view that Christians and the Culture are in paradox, contradicting realities. And, fifth, Christians are to live seeking to transform the Culture.

Regardless of what has been written and proposed over the course of history by godly men that is very insightful and helpful, there is only one opinion that really counts. We remember the cry of the Reformers, “What saith the Scriptures?”

Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first… If you were of the world, the world would love you; but because you are not of the world… therefore the world hates you (John 15:8-9). Jesus also told His disciples that they were His witnesses, Luke 24:48. Jesus gave the church a command. He commanded the church to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).

The truth is that living the Christian life will offend the world. Yet, we are not to live in fear of the world. Jesus said that He is the only one to fear (Matthew 10:28). He said in the same narrative, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).

God’s revealed proposition is that the world’s system, seen in the godless culture in which we live, is opposed to Christ and by implication it is opposed to those who live Christ. The Bible is clear in declaring that Christians are in the world but not of the world, as quoted above from the Gospel according to John.

We who profess Christ should be aware that following Jesus is opposed to our Culture. We should also be aware that Jesus called His followers to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). We dare not hide what we know to be true or live in opposition to the truth of God’s word. Rather we are called to let our light shine… so that the world may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Peter’s first epistle provides a clear application for living the Christian Life. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

The Apostle Paul’s declaration to the Pastor Titus gives the church direction in standing for the truth of God. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11ff).

God has chosen to reach the lost through His people. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit’s work is to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). May all who profess Christ live as becomes a follower of Jesus and may His church resist attempts to embrace the culture.