Our theme for this month: “Life on this side of the cross”
Our Bible verse for today: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Protect yourself against assimilation”
In yesterday’s message I noted that in time this COVID 19 pandemic will be over and we will recover from the economic meltdown. Like all of the other disasters that have engulfed the world over the course of history, including plagues, wars, famines, natural disasters, and economic meltdowns, this one too shall pass.
But a problem that will not pass is the sinfulness of the pagan world. The ways of the world are evil. Entire cultures rebel against God, and this situation will continue to get worse and worse as history unfolds and as we get ever-closer to the end of time. The challenge for the people of God has always been to be “in” the world without being “of” the world. We have to live within the culture, making a positive difference for the cause of Christ, without being absorbed and assimilated by that culture. This is our problem today, and it’s not going away.
On the other side of the cross, in the Old Testament Age, this was actually less of a problem for the Jews than it is for Christians today on this side of the cross. The Jews were a people set-apart from the cultures around them. In terms of language, appearance, customs, beliefs, and lifestyle, the Jews were always different. Historically, in whatever country they found themselves, the Jews have tended to live in isolated communities so they could keep themselves separate and so they could protect their faith and their customs. But even with that strict sense of separation, if you know your Old Testament history, you know that they were frequently infected by the cultures around them anyway, and it was always their downfall.
The problem is more acute for Christians, and especially so for us today in the USA. For the most part, we don’t live as a called-out and separated people. Instead we are knee-deep in the culture around us. So much so, that we are often indistinguishable from the people around us. This is what Paul was warning against in Romans 12:2, and it’s the battle we will continue to have to fight long after the COVID 19 pandemic is just a footnote in history.
Christians today often lament the opposition and perceived persecution we believe we face because of our faith. But I say to you this morning that much more than opposition or even persecution, the bigger danger we all face is assimilation – being absorbed into the culture and becoming just like the society we live in.
As we go forward in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, I encourage you to take the steps necessary to protect yourself from being assimilated. You are still part of the called-out people of God, and I encourage you to live like it. Be in the world, but don’t be of the world – don’t be just like the culture you are suppose to be helping to change.