Culture

LEADING OUR CHILDREN THROUGH AN OPPOSING CULTURAL

Ever parents faces the daunting challenge of how to walk our children through the influences and landmines of the surrounding culture.

In this Gospel Coalition interview, parents are given some practical thoughts on leading our children well through a culture which does not honor biblical values

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.12.17

Love for God is not independent from him

 

1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Why this sudden concern for hairstyle?

In the New Testament, the emphasis is on the heart rather than the exterior (Mark 7:20-23)

Paul is also concerned for the heart condition of wives participating in church services

Their participation in “prayer and prophecy” is assumed and encouraged

This was revolutionary compared to Jewish synagogues where women were not even full members

However, it appears some wives were taking this freedom a step further

The phrase head uncovered is literally: “having down from the head”

There is historic evidence for this being hair bound up on head, or a cloth covering

Once women were married, they kept their hair bound up – it was a cultural norm

For a wife to ‘uncover’ her hair in public was a declaration of her independence

Why were wives doing this while speaking in church service?

We have already seen the Corinthians had a high view of their spirituality

We will see in coming chapters they took pride in how their spiritual gifts we were used during services

Hair ‘uncovered’ declared:  I have independent authority straight from God

Paul responds by presenting a big picture view of ‘headship’

Paul brings up headship in v3 before he identifies why he does in v5

Lets us know all that follows is about Christ more than dress code

 

Paul points are strikingly current for us

1.  God’s design promotes dependence not independence

v3 gives a 3-fold list of headship with women in the middle of the list to show it is not demeaning of them

Headship is a statement of hierarchy and it implies submission

Both concepts are repudiated in our culture as being archaic

But the inclusion of Christ in this list clearly shows that is not God’s perspective

There is a hierarchy with the triune Godhead: Father – Son – Holy Spirit

The Son serves and glorifies the Father; while the Holy Spirit was sent by and glorifies the Son

v7 God created humanity in his image, which means we reflect his character

This includes embracing the concepts of authority and creation order (vs 8-10)

If women (or men) push off their headship – they reject God’s order

The women who did this, dishonored their ‘head’ – their husband

In that culture, a head covering was a ‘symbol’ of role acceptance (v10)

When we exalt our independence, we denigrate God’s order

Why does v10 add ‘angels’ to mix?

They are messengers of God’s glory

Paul also cited angels in 6:3 which shows that our obedience is part of the big picture of God’s reign

2.  God’s design brings completion not ‘contention’ (v16)

Paul shows that submission doesn’t mean we are being devalued (vs 11-12)

Men and women are interdependent, one is not better or more valued

Ultimately, we are all fully dependent on and submitted to God

As believers, we embrace God’s order because we trust him

  • Wives submit to imperfect husbands
  • Children honor imperfect parents
  • Church members submit to an imperfect local church

We have ample reason to trust that God’s goodness is built into his design

Each of our roles contains a God given ‘glory’ in it (v7)

This idea of glory means there is completion and joy when we accept it

Jesus himself submits to the Father to complete the gospel plan (1 Corinthians 15:28)

If we throw off God’s design all that’s left is brokenness

3.  Gender distinctions are God-given and shouldn’t be blurred (v14)

Homosexuality was prominent in ancient Greece and Rome

So, Paul uses the principle of God’s design to address blurring gender distinctions

It is another example of how we must not join the world in discarding God’s order

4.  Our cultural choices should always be God-honoring (vs 13-16)

Every culture expresses itself in ways that communicate values

Great Commandment people avoid choices that (1) dishonor God, or (2) weaken our testimony

Questions to ask ourselves:

  1. Do we dress to please people or God?
  2. Do we adorn ourselves in ways that are meant to demonstrate a rebellious attitude?
  3. Does our behavior flow with the world more than with God’s Word?
  4. Do we have attitudes that are dismissive of God given authority and institutions?

These questions are really about our love for God. We cannot love him and dismiss his design for us or this world

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.03.17

Is our thinking shaped by Christ?

 

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

 

Paul corrects their misuse of freedoms

1. Paul is probably quoting their words of defense in vs 12-13 

They were using their freedom from OT dietary law as cover for temple feasts involving prostitutes

v13 implies they were also pointing out that since the body dies, how it is used is unimportant

2. Paul corrects the starting place of their defense

Yes, we have freedoms in Christ, but our rights are never our starting place

God, and how we honor him is always our starting place (v12 what is “helpful”)

When we begin with our freedoms, they will “dominate” us (this includes activities we use for escape)

Whatever doesn’t place God in his rightful place, is trying to take that place

 3. Paul then corrects their view of our physical body

It’s true this body is corrupt and will pass away; but that is only half the story

v14 God raised Jesus’ body and He will raise ours!  God values this body He created

Great Commandment living calls for God to be first in all that we are – all the time

 

Paul brings in the implications of our union with Christ (vs15-20)

He gives 3 you-should-know statements flowing out of our union with Christ

God is always our starting place in life, and Jesus is our starting place with God

 1. You should know that you have been joined to Christ (v15)

This is why the gospel is so powerful and our confidence in it is so great

If you’re a member (part) of Christ, think how obscene it is to take part of Christ into sin

When God is not our starting place, we minimize the great truths we have in the gospel

2. You should know that sex has a covenant purpose (vs16-17)

The world doesn’t start with God, so sex and its implications are only viewed physically. God gave sex to build a unique oneness in marriage. Its effects are more than physical

Just as we become one flesh in marriage, we are now one spirit with the Lord. This makes sexual immorality especially corrupting to us. It abuses what has a spiritual purpose

3. You should know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (vs19-20)

When you engage in sin, you take the Holy Spirit with you

When God is not our starting place, we think that our sin is a personal issue. God says no! 

v19 “you are not your own” – you are responsible for you, but you are not in charge of you

v20 you were bought with a price” – God became flesh, died, and took the wrath we deserved, our debt is great

 

What can we learn from the attitudes in this passage that seem culturally foreign to us?

1. Cultures change, but their foundational motivations don’t

Every culture exalts itself, rather than God; only the church is cross-centered

Keep in mind chapters 1-2, the world’s view of wisdom is upside down

All thinking, attitudes and opinions, no matter how culturally common, must be sifted by Scripture

2. Any defense of sin requires foolish self-deception

We can easily look with distain on the Corinthian’s behavior and defenses

Yet, every sin in your life is just as indefensible (this includes sins of omission)

Every argument you use to minimize your sin is contorted and foolish

3. Paul gives us two unchanging actions of godliness

#1  v19“Flee sexual immorality” (and any other form of sin)

Recognize that sin is dangerous . . we must go in the opposite direction . . with urgency!

#2  v20 “Glorify God in your body”

We don’t “flee” aimlessly!   We have a direction and it’s toward the person of Christ!

To glorify not a vague idea, it’s specific actions of making God far above all

This includes glorifying him “in our body”. So let’s “do” what shows God that he is far above all!

CHURCH HUNTERS

This tongue-in-cheek video cleverly exposes many of the casual and self-centered attitudes our culture has toward church life.

 

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

Morality

Have you ever found yourself disturbed over the casual way in which sexual behavior outside of marriage has been presented in our culture?

No one enjoys being disturbed, but it’s worse if we are undisturbed by a degraded culture.

Not too long ago the world at least understood the Church’s concern about sex outside of marriage. Now the world will not even agree on the definition of what is a marriage!

Those who love God have good reason for voicing their concern. A constant stream of immorality deadens the senses to God’s standards. What the Bible calls immorality is so common that even the biblically literate can fall into a mindset that thinks “biblical standards should not be that inflexible”.

But the situation has become even worse than desensitized understanding toward sexuality and godly purity. Today, there are many in the church who RESENT reminders of Biblical standards.

We need to ask ourselves some pointed questions:

Are we willingly to believe that God’s Word is no longer smart enough for our generation – and that the culture we see around us is wiser than God?

Are we willing to say that we no longer need the grace of God’s Word being spoken into our lives by fellow believers – especially when we have veered off of the Bible’s good and protective path?

Barton Gingrich has written an article for the Gospel Coalition that addresses the problem of minimizing biblical standards by many of this generation’s self-proclaimed biblical Christians. He writes,

“Young evangelicals must choose their master. Right now, too many follow their appetites and desires.”

Who have you chosen to be Master of your life? Whose word do you trust? And almost as important, of whose word will you be skeptical?

Reading Barton’s full article may be a help to you in considering these questions about today’s perspective of sexual morality.

R

WHAT IS YOUR CULTURAL DIET?

Not long ago I was reading an article in which the author gave what I think is wonderful advice:

Take stock of your cultural diet. Evaluate and re-evaluate your movie-watching, music-listening, clothes-wearing habits. Are you feeding or starving the lust of your flesh?

We all live in a culture. More accurately we live in the midst of several overlapping and often co-mingling cultures.

As Christians, we are alert to the extreme violations of biblically defined culture, but too often we float along without serious examination of our “cultural diet”.

The point is not to make us rigid; it is to make us biblical – which by God’s definition is always wise and good!

This exercise is not an infringement upon our Christian liberties; it is a sifting to make sure our liberties are in fact God-honoring and Christian.

I will press the point a little further to say, if we are unwilling to examine our cultural diet, then we are not actually serious about being Christ-followers. For Jesus unceasingly leads to love the Father with all that we are. This includes honoring Him in all that we take in.

HOW DO WE ENGAGE ROTTENNESS?

When I was a small boy, we had trash cans and a separate garbage pail for food scraps. I hated opening the garbage pail because of the noxious odor that came out and the disgusting writhing mass of maggots on display in it.

That childhood memory comes quickly to mind when I think of the course of our “culture” today.

There is a lot of discussion about engaging our culture, but I think I find more agreement with Carl Truman who recently pointed out that we no longer have a true culture to engage!  He writes,

Let’s face it: We now live in a world where refusing a man the right to expose himself in a woman’s toilet is enough to risk your city losing the right to host a football game.

Trueman who is a world class theologian and an excellent writer, refers to this problem as “The Rise of the Anti-culture”, which is also the title of this article.

The answer is not to withdraw our voices, but the Church needs to think more clearly about what it often calls cultural engagement. Too often this simply means trying to look enough like the world that they are comfortable with us. But how can we consider trying to be comfortable with a world whose values are looking more like my childhood garbage pail?

We cannot lessen our engagement with people despite their sin or brokenness, for Christ came to save them – and only by grace are we still not one of them. But the world has drawn lines of anti-culture that we cannot even come close to mimicking, let alone crossing.

If by engaging the culture, we mean talking to them about light – truth – and the gospel; then engage with all the gusto you can muster. But if by engagement, we think we can mix biblical truth with current cultural perspectives, we will end up with a confused mess of ‘spirituality’ rather than gospel clarity.

This is a confusion we cannot accept, for the gospel in its glorious purity alone has the power to save!

WHAT DO THE CHURCHES IN OUR AREA THINK?

 

In recent weeks I have attended two gatherings of local pastors. Except for me, each was attended by a different group of church leaders.

It should not be surprising that the topic of gay marriage and gender identity was brought up each time and became the prominent focus of discussion.

As the discussions began, I wondered inside how unified would these pastors be in their perspectives?

In both cases I rejoiced in what I heard! These servants of God stood firmly rooted in the unchangeable truth of God’s Word, while being deeply concerned with expressing the wonders of God’s grace.

Here are themes that were brought up and received with unity and conviction:

The Bible clearly teaches homosexuality is sin

All sexual activity outside of a biblically defined marriage is also sinful

All sin is wrong and should be treated seriously

The church must remain clear minded in its teaching on sin

When Christians mock those we disagree with, we are failing to uphold the gospel

Churches should not pick on gender identity sin as if other sins are not also wretched

We must love those caught in gender identity sin

We must work hard to express care for those who are struggling with gender identity

However, in our desire to show grace, we must not allow compromise with homosexual relationships in our churches

We are not judging people when we declare God’s word and identify his view of sin to them

Our churches need to work on having a culture of care for all sinners and not shun those who are distasteful to us, or who make us uncomfortable

We are called by God to be reaching out with the gospel into the lives of all people around us

God has never been more or less sovereign

We should remain fully confident in God’s present and faithful work among us

We need to guard against enemies of the gospel using ‘anti discrimination’ laws to persecute the church

There is no better, safer or grander place to stand than in the truth of the gospel

To our sorrow, there are clergy in our region and beyond claiming to be shepherds of God’s people who are revealing that they are actually wolves.

However, we should be encouraged that the beating heart of the evangelistic churches around us is firming rooted in the clear gospel of Jesus Christ!

 

SILENCING THE BIBLE’S VOICE

While in Guatemala this week I am giving my readers the gift of connecting you to other people’s blogs!

In this article titled “Christianity Packs Its Office and Leaves the Building”, Jonathan Leeman makes an interesting response to those who say Christianity has no place in public forums, by writing in the voice of Christianity itself.

 

EVALUATING WHAT WE WATCH etc

We are all engaged with the surrounding culture on a daily basis. And we all experience being splattered by the ungodly attitudes and lifestyles that are found virtually everywhere we go.

There was a time when our culture consider it a value to hold up shared standards as a matter of respect for one another and for the protection of children who are easily impacted in negative ways by images, words and ideas that they are not yet ready to process. Those days are fading fast.

However we can choose some of the images we consume into our lives. An excellent book in helping us to work out the decisions of what to watch, where to go and what to keep from our eyes and ears is “Worldliness; Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World” by CJ Mahaney. I highly recommend this book for all ages. And it works well for small group discussion.

Another good resource is to read this article by Randy Alcorn. He wrote it in response to a question someone sent him about choosing movies. The principles he gives can be widely applied.

Above all, remember the true goal for every believer is to do everything we can to increasingly love and honor God each day. Our objective is not to please ourselves or to find the lowest threshold acceptable to God for his people. Sadly the later may be practiced by some believers, but it has nothing to do with loving God, sharing his heart or being thankful to him.

 

3.23.12