Living In Creative Antagonism To The Culture Around Us (Part 1)
How do we effectively nurture spiritual life when we live in a culture that sucks the oxygen out of it everyday. I use the word creative because God has not released us from our vital roles in the world. To be salt and light we must be in the world. I say antagonism because very little in the culture actually nurtures the life of Jesus in me.
The culture that God has called me to live in is an opiate against many of the commands for life given to me by my Heavenly Father. I came to Jesus for salvation, but I continue to submit to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit because I know that while I live in this world and its culture, God wants to transform me into the image of His son, Jesus.
The history of Israel in the Old Testament is a reminder of just how easy it can be to be duped into living the lie of the culture. The Old Testament prophets are symbolic of the need to continually submit ourselves to building awareness to God and His word.
The “sixteen Hebrew prophets provide the help we so badly need if we are to stay alert and knowledgeable regarding the conditions in which we cultivate faithful and obedient lives before God. For the ways of the world—its assumptions, its values, its methods of going about its work—are never on the side of God. Never.” (taken from MSG introduction to the prophets)
In commenting on this problem in relationship to Hebrews 10:24f, “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together ...” Oswald Chamber says, “We are all capable of being spiritually lazy saints. We want to stay off the rough roads of life, and our primary objective is to secure a peaceful retreat from the world. The ideas put forth in these verses from Heb 10 are those of stirring up one another and of keeping ourselves together. Both of these require initiative — our willingness to take the first step toward Christ-realization, not the initiative toward self- realization. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.”
Chambers has caught the crux of the challenge. We are saved by God out of this world in the sense that, having been judged in the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, we will not be condemned with it at His return. But, we are still in it until He decides that we are no longer to serve Him in it. And, while here, He is anticipating our fully redeemed state by building us into the image of His Son. Redemption is for eternity, but transformation is for time, this time we live in.
We are in the world, and as I said, positively so. That is, we do not hide from it, but embrace life as He gives it. All the while, we remain vigilant to the fact that while in it, we must not be dominated by it. The world is in the immediate hands of Satan. And so, much authored by him and sin, is diametrically opposed to the ends for which God created this earth. But, God still designs for me, growing victory and transformation in spite of this. I must choose His sovereign power over the immediacy of Satan’s temporary influence on this world.
What exactly am I choosing in order to experience growing transformation. There is much to choose. But, the words of Paul to Timothy frame for me a beginning. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” I Timothy 6:17-19
Let’s take a deeper look at this the next time, for what we do with our financial assets may most reveal which God we serve, knowingly or unknowingly.