“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:18-21).
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (Heb 13:8-14).
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).
So some of you may have noticed I often say, “our culture this, but you that.” And I know stuff like that can get really old. So I figured, why not let’s talk about it. Hopefully without using the phrase “in the world, not of it” because that’s tired, too. Biblical, but tired.
Sometimes you can use a phrase so much it stops conveying its meaning. They get exhausted.
And sometimes you can explain things from a point of view so often people forget why that point of view exists.
There are so many places where the popular culture and the Bible agree. Taking care of the poor, the disabled, and the forgotten? Absolutely! Seeking a better understanding of the earth? Yep! Desire for justice and compassion? One-hundred percent!
So if we agree so much, why do I keep contrasting the two?
First, even in those shared values there is often conflict. But in many cases it is not a difference of Biblical values or even interpretation.
For example, it is one thing to value taking care of the poor, the disabled, and the forgotten; it is quite another to agree on how to do that. And that’s where your political views cause major clash: Is a community responsibility that must be forcibly imposed on all citizens via taxation? Or is it an individual responsibility and, if not enough individuals value it enough to give to it freely, then it’s not actually a shared value and so the poor, disabled, and forgotten stay poor, disabled, and forgotten?
You’ll find that you can both attack and defend both of those political viewpoints very well based on the Bible.
Second, you do have to become aware of something: you are constantly being bombarded by competing messages.
Every time you watch a video on YouTube or load up Facebook, there are ads pushing random crap—and how they do it is giving you a message about value. And every video you watch and post you read is giving you a message itself—not just its own message, but the system of values underlying it.
I love watching movies and TV shows. But I am always aware of what messages they are sending. For example, I believe that the hands-down best X-Men movie is X-2. I am also aware that the movie (and pretty much all of the other X-Men movies) are pushing a pro-LGBT message, building strong parallels between the plot and the LGBT movement (“Have you tried not being a mutant?” in X-2, and “Mutant and proud,” in X-Men: First Class, for example).
I enjoy the movies and I’m not telling anyone not to watch them. I will continue to rewatch the good X-Men movies (because some of them weren’t so good), and I’m very much looking forward to X-Men: Apocalypse. I’m just saying that you need to be aware of what the movie is trying to teach you while you watch it.
So everything you read, watch, and listen to also communicates some sort of message to you. And being aware of that is the first step to actually evaluating the message, testing to see if it’s true or not, whether it should be made part of your own values and beliefs.
Third, you also have to understand that no matter how much God might agree with our culture—and our friends and family are part of that culture—it also disagrees with God on quite a bit. And it will continue sending you messages that are opposed to God.
Which is why it’s so necessary to be aware of and evaluate those messages: so that you do not become conflicted against God within your own value system.
On the one hand, you are constantly trying to be transformed into the image of God. That means that your values must also shift to God’s values, because otherwise you are not letting yourself be transformed. But as you accept these cultural values that oppose God, they come into conflict with the God-based values. And thus you become conflicted, wanting two things that are incompatible.
And you will ultimately choose to go one way or another; towards God or away. And refusing to choose is choosing against God, since God has said to be transformed to His image.
This is why I (and so many other pastors) talk so much about cultural values vs. God’s values: because it is a conflict within you. My goal is to help you find those areas of conflict so that you might settle the conflict.
So you may become more at peace by becoming more transformed into the image of God.