Summary: Does your church have the culture of Jesus? Our modern culture is shifting but to adapt too much destroys the mission of winning souls to Jesus..

Culture Shifts: Good vs Evil Kelly Durant

I Corinthians1:22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[b] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

2. Today is Cultural Day celebrated by the Salvation Army in the Southern Territory! Here in Hialeah we are authentically culturally diverse with people from over 10 nations in our midst! We are atypical! The typical with most churches is they are predominately 90% white, black, Latino, or something else! Church, across the nation, is the most segregated day of the week! But you cannot stop people wanting to meet with those with whom they feel comfortable. It is natural for birds of a feather to flock together but a wealth of knowledge can be gained from mixing with those different from you and even better is living years immersed in another culture. I feel privileged by God to have gained 14 years of wealth in South America in 5 different countries that are not similar in culture, music, food, or political pasts.

Cultural events are an opportunity to get to know people from other experiences in life other than yours. I grew up in your typical mid-west American setting where 90% are white and I only met a foreigner, a Chilean, for the first time when my best friend had an exchange student live in his house. We experienced many funny situations because Fernando arrived not knowing any English and everyone had a laugh and a hard time communicating with him in the beginning. Many youth today go to schools surrounded by hundreds of others who are different and from other countries. But different is often either accepted and embraced or protested and mocked. Reality checks need to be done on the motives of either. Movies influence attitudes.

Have you ever noticed how jokes about another culture shape how many people may view that other culture? When I was young people use to tell Pollock jokes; How many Pollocks do you need to change a lightbulb? Five, 1 to hold the bulb and 4 to spin the ladder! The impression I had a long time ago I recall was that they must be pretty dumb, but I have read articles on the intelligence of different nations and they actually rate quite high in intelligence. Read about their fight for solidarity! One deduction I make concerning these jokes is that those of another culture concocted these jokes to counter the influence of them and to diminish their influence as new immigrants.

3. Today I want you to think about how you see other cultures, how others see your culture, and then determine what you think God’s view is concerning your culture. How is your culture influencing you for good or for bad? Are you aware of the strengths and weaknesses, the historical and current influences which overtly or subliminally influence and control your decisions, habits, and attitudes? How Biblical is your personal culture? To be counter-culture is often a positive, have you ever thought of that?

Today we are extrapolating the implications of the cultures using the example of what Paul said from his time: “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[b] foolishness”,

Basically, the attitudes from his time still remain today! Paul was criticizing his own race! Today the people of the humanist secular type mentality who are resistant to the things of the spirit and the miraculous and think of themselves as logical and scientific, are basically the same as the Jews who wanted a sign to believe. We might compare this mentality to certain European or communist atheistic influenced cultures. There have been and there will always be people who are doubtful, unbelieving, unspiritual, and unwilling to accept that more realities exist in the world than what their limited experiences offer them as a reference. In other words, these types of people thinking they are smarter than those who believe in signs are actually dumber and they are “fools”. Faith is real whether it is backed up by a sign or not!

4. The Jews, and all cultures around Jesus in his time, were given many miraculous signs of healings, demon liberations, and even the one of the raising of the dead (Lazarus). But the sign that Jesus came out of the grave is the one that is most important to notice! If a person will not accept this amazing feat by the Son of God, then they by their unbelief cannot be saved into eternity. If you doubt that Jesus holds the keys to life hereafter, then God honors your choice; the hereafter and resurrection will simply not be there for you after you die. You chose it, but..

Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”.

Anyone from any culture must become as a child to believe. It is God’s test. It was God’s test for the Jews and still is for all cultures. Faith is not seeing to believe, faith is believing and then you will see, or I should say you will have no more doubts of the unexplainable of God because God will reveal Himself in small but noticeable ways to you through the Holy Spirit.

5. It is carnal and prideful to want a sign from God, but many people want one. I even asked God for a sign to know if I should serve Him or not (but I did already believe) and soon afterwards I dreamed a few very vivid dreams confirming God was perusing me and that I needed to escape with my life away from my selfish self-absorbed culture in my day. This is one reason, along with being convicted by the Word of God that I chose to serve Him as a young man at age 21. So God will even show you or me signs, but it is usually not through miraculous signs but through the witness of people with whom He makes us cross paths with. The gospel of Jesus is preached everywhere and multitudes of people everywhere get a chance to hear, believe, and follow, or to reject and mock. But you and I must be a messenger of God’s love! Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

What is my culture? Just Christian! But growing up American for me in the 1960s meant I had been exposed to a country in turmoil that had a problem respecting blacks and minorities. It meant I learned that the youth should protest against a corrupt system when it creates wars only for certain politicians to get rich. It meant that I knew I was privileged as a middle class person to be able to work and be a little wealthier than most of the majority poor in other nations. It also meant that I was exposed to powerful loud music, psychedelic drugs, the supernatural beliefs of the Irish, of Native Americans, and of Hinduism. I also had friends of friends who read Ouija boards and followed the Satanic Bible. Good and evil is in abundance in this American culture! I don’t know about you but right now I hate seeing evil growing like weeds overtaking the beauty of the good fruit that could exist in society. We are in a cultural war of good verses evil and we must fight and defend what is Biblical, righteous, and pure or we are failing God and allowing corruption and hell to take over.

I do thank God for the good within this technologically advanced culture. The predominating American culture of the 1960s meant that people in society were very Biblically literate and God-fearing and most everyone was honest, hard-working, loving and Christian. Communities were safer, people gave their word and trust was given, few divorces existed, and no one locked the doors to their houses or cars. I miss those days! Christians have failed to fight evil!

6. Cultures shift. The U.S is not what it was. No longer is Cuba the richest happiest island of the Caribbean either. Stale despotic politics leading to poverty and hunger has killed the joy of these formerly highly educated and culturally wealthy people. Extreme corruption is affecting almost every nation today! Google it, you find that India, Mexico, Russia, all Muslim countries, and now even the U.S. is seen as one of the worst! 75% of Americans agree that the current corruption is at its worst and is out of hand! (by Steve Forbes, a well-respected news outlet)

What happened to the Greeks, mentioned in verse 22? They dominated the world for a time, they brought in enough peacetime that the old men had enough leisure time talk all day and philosophize and write down interesting things such as what we read from Homer, Plato, Socrates, and the rest. They might have been a great culture before, but they degenerated. They became so proud they could not listen to anyone else’s wisdom so they became fools.

Think about what we know now, of all the Greek mythological stories of gods with winged shoes, and others with lightning bolts, and yet they considered that wisdom. Some of their philosophical deductions and mathematics are quite amazing when you consider the framework of the culture in which they lived. In their society you thanked God you were not born a slave, nor born as a woman! You would think they would have embraced the account of Jesus crucified and then resurrected (which is less far-fetched than their stories) but no, they were too proud of being who they were, and their culture of stubbornness made them become an old bunch of bankrupted degenerated fools who rejected God’s truth and they have not even recovered even until this day! What a humiliation despite trying to be right with God through their own form of Christian Greek Orthodoxy. Things just always have to be their way.

7. So if cultures rise and develop, and then degenerate and fall, what are we to conclude looking at history? In the past 2,000 years the nations that have been the most Christian prevailed! Did God allow the U.S. to defeat the empires of Japan and Germany? I think so, but only because people were repentant and praying desperately for the mega murderous Satanic evils to be defeated! Goodness and Godliness in cultures must be maintained and fought for or evil men take over! The evil kings of Judah cost all the people in the Hebrew nations to lose their freedom many times over. Christian leadership is absolutely essential!

When it comes to culture, we must always evaluate what is good and what is evil. Here is the problem, we have people calling the good evil and the evil good. Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

You can see the Hebrews did a cultural shift back in Isaiah’s’ time and what happened? Their idolatries, pride, and sins overtook them to the point that God allowed them to become overtaken and made slaves to another pagan nation. This is the cycle of nations that is all based around culture, whether the culture is worshipping and honoring and obeying God persistently or not.

8. All cultures offer good and evil so how can you discern what is what if you grow up in just one and do not have anything to compare it with? The less there is of God the more the ignorance. Can you see the point of why everyone needs to mix with other cultures to discover how others do things? It is really frustrating to see certain closed cultures lose out by always relying on their own people while living in another country, trying to live as they did back home in the new land instead of trying new ways appreciating a new culture.

Christians have their own culture as well, depending on the denomination. People who attend a church usually have a community experience of worship, Bible study, camps, meals, and fun with people which they normally would never mix with. Rich and poor, white, black, and brown often mix together and everyone enjoys one another because we are all of the same blood, the blood of Jesus. Only Jesus can unite cultures and the church is the last resort for racial healing! Jesus brought us the culture of the kingdom of God which is one of love and it must preside over all! Col. 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

But be careful with the Christian culture you associate with! Some churches are stuck on ancient irrelative traditions, or on doctrines proven to be erroneous, and on their own self-righteous stubbornness thinking that only they are the chosen going to heaven. Sadly, many Christian churches are essentially useless to Jesus’ cause and mission of loving people into God’s kingdom because they have accommodated the modern day cultural shifts degenerating their mission. Cultures are always remaking their selves and you must ask the question, how are we as a collective group changing and shifting? Where will it lead to, and is God in it?

9. The Salvation Army has its own culture as well but it has adapted to the cultures of 130 countries! What is the main theme of our culture? It is holiness, service, compassion, and love! Serving others in the name of Jesus! For me, no matter how long a Captain or Major has been commissioned if there is not a spirit of holiness, service, compassion, and love in them then they have shifted away from the original culture of being what a true Salvationist is! May God help you and me to never shift away from this legacy because it is what the true kingdom of God is made of: It is in doing as Jesus did! And we always say, Do something!”

Diverse music, marching bands, camps, clubs, shelters, rehab centers, all of these things make up our culture and you can be proud of it for enduring 151 years. Past great great-grandfathers at a great sacrifice built these operations and today people called by God maintain them all in action all with the motive to win souls to Jesus. You as Soldiers are the front lines keeping our Corps in order, inspiring, and alive with programs, mission, and effectiveness.

So, no matter your race or culture, Jew or Greek, Cuban, Nicaraguan, Colombian, or North- American, you can have the culture of Jesus in your life superseding the surrounding culture you live in now or the one of your past upbringing. Don’t seek signs or worldly wisdom from the so called halls of higher learning of any culture. Accept the good and eschew the evil of all cultures being aware of what is what in each of them. The reward for you will be: “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” in you!