Summary: Behavioral guidelines for the believer for engaging a post-Christian culture in a postive manner.
Most of us know that there is currently a war raging. But what we don’t hear on the news every night is that there is a war raging on our own soil - not just halfway around the world in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The war in which we are engaged is a culture war. It is a conflict to see what our society will become in the future.
Now this is not one of those militant church sermons - although there are times when the church is to "earnestly contend for the faith". (Jude 1:3) This is more a message on how we can impact our culture by what we contribute to it.
Last Tuesday they sentenced the last member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, James Kilgore, for his part in the shooting of a customer in a bank in 1973. (That customer, by the way, happened to be a lady depositing her church’s offerings.)
For those of you not around in the early 70’s, the SLA was a domestic terrorist group bent on waging war on American culture. They believed in violent acts as a means of changing society to meet their vision of what it should become. Probably best known for their kidnapping of newspaper magnet daughter Patty Hearst, they got their name from the word "symbiosis". In biology, symbiosis is a relationship between two organisms that provides a benefit to at least one of the organisms. They sincerely believed their violent acts were going to benefit the rest of us in America.
Their conduct was very counter-culture.
That era is gone but the attempts to change our culture, our way of life, certainly live on. In addition to the attempts of Islamic terrorists we have today’s social reconstructionists.
The battle lines for re-engineering the fabric of our society can be seen in a myriad of causes.
The removal of any mention of God from the public sector.
The ongoing battle to redefine and reshape the definition of marriage.
Abortion and debates on cloning, "designer babies", and research from the stem cells of fetuses.
Last week Nancy Reagan made a public appearance with some other celebrities to call for the reinstatement of stem cell research because her beloved husband, former President Ronald Reagan suffers from Alzheimer’s and embyonic stem cells "may" provide a cure.
We all sympathize with the Alzheimer’s patients and their families and others who believe their diseases are potentially treatable by embryonic stem cell research. But destroying a fertilized human egg in order to extract the stem cells from it, while it may seem humanitarian, is the unjust taking of human life since the Bible equates conception as the beginning of life.
It’s like the foolish justification of those who murder abortion doctors. It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.
The presuppositions of toying with human life are all wrong. For one thing, as we learned last time in this series, "if we died with him we will also live with him." Our bodies are going to deteriorate and die one way or another. It is okay to use every ethical medical advancement we can to extend our lives and give them a better quality. But the ultimate truth is these bodies will eventually die and be replaced by spiritual bodies. Therefore we should not allow ourselves to be sucked into the moral vortex of compromise in order to extend the existence of our mortal bodies.
Society in general tells us that when we say certain things like this are WRONG and other things are RIGHT, that we have no right to do so. But that is exactly the purpose behind what we have been studying these last five weeks. These passages from the pastoral letters on ABSOLUTE TRUTH are not our pronouncements - they are God’s revelation.
This week’s trustworthy truth appears in the last verse of our scripure text but it appears to reflect on every thing that is revealed back to verse one.
In this passage the Apostle Paul is calling for believers to conduct themselves positively in their negative culture. Instead of the violent behavior exhibited by terrorists who try to change society from the outside-in, Christ’s followers should impact their culture from the inside-out. And even if our culture does not seem to be positively influenced by our activities - these scriptures teach us how our lifestyle can be a witness to the saving grace of God.
Let’s consider the behavioral guidelines for the believer who desires to change his culture in a positive way.
1. Cooperate with authority and get involved in the community.
Verse 1 - "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good."
One of the strong currents of our society is to look out solely for ourselves and obey and show respect to only those who see things our way. The challenge is to show respect and do good things to and for those who differ with us.