Monday, October 02, 2006

A Change in Culture

I have been thinking the past few days how much the United States has changed in the past 100 years. In many ways we can look at our culture and see that it has taken a turn for the worst. Sure there are many good things that we have access to that weren’t around 50 years ago let alone 100, but our morals and values seem to have sunken to all time lows.

Take for example the terrible tragedy in Bailey, CO this past week. This sort of thing was unheard of a generation ago, but violence and sexual assaults are becoming an all too frequent part of life for us today. In some aspects it seems like we are coming to accept them as a part of life. A tragedy but something we have no control over.

Why has our culture taken this dreadful turn? In the first century a handful of Christ-Followers impacted an empire. In this past century hundreds of thousands of Christians were unable to influence the direction of a nation. This loss of influence has not been due to a lack of political influence. One could argue that the Church in the United States is more political than ever before, and still things go from bad to worse.

Part of the problem has been complacency. During that short period of time (remember the frontier in the United States was a godless place) when it appeared that everyone lived according to God’s law the Church in the United States went to sleep. It seemed like everyone was a Christian and that the United States was a Christian nation. They were not conscious of the changes that were taking place in this country and had no clue how the new forms of media (music, movies, and television) were going to influence the nations values.

A second part of the problem is that faith became more of an intellectual pursuit rather than a lifestyle. Evangelism became about convincing people that God existed and Jesus rose from the dead. So Christians took up the task of debating and trying to prove to the world that we are right, while missing the pain that was actually at the root of the questions people asked.

A third part is that “Christian” became a sub-culture. Christian bookstores selling Christian music, books, and collectibles came into existence drawing a line between Secular and Godly. Rather than engaging the culture around us we sought to separate ourselves from it. One of the results of this are shallow Christians who never get past the pop-Christianity that is sold in many of these stores.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News. It is Good News for me, for you, the Muslim in Los Angeles, the Jew in New York, the Hindu in Phoenix, the agnostic in Seattle, or the atheist in Washington. The Gospel is Good News for everyone, whether they accept it as Truth or not, because it impacts the lives of those who believe. When I am a follower of Christ I am a better citizen, neighbor, enemy, friend, son, brother, and husband (hopefully). Living out the Gospel I impact the lives of all those around me, and thus I influence the direction of the culture.

How can we reverse the direction our culture is taking? We live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our lives.


Katherine said...

Paul, I am shouting amen at my computer!!!

You are so right! I get so sick of conservative political Christians (even though most of my views would be labeled as such)looking back to the early part of the 20th century as some sort of "perfect" Christian America. No, there were just different sins. Instead of rampant pornography we had racism. Instead of public homosexuality we had misogyny.
I think by not acknowleging the problems in the American Church, we push away people who recognize the problems but need the good news anyway. This, of course, is why Christians need to do what Christ did in Acts 9, use secular sources to reach people. Thanks for this post!

Paul said...


I am right with you. The views I hold would be labeled conservative Christian and many times I am sympathetic to that cause because I know what they say is right.

My problem is that the agenda often seems to be to create a country and moral culture that we as Christians are comfortable with.

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