Church, Culture, and Trials

Throughout the 2000-year history of the Church of Jesus there have been continual trials. For the most part, these trials have to do with the church at odds with the prevailing culture.

In the early church the enemy was the culture of paganism that pervaded all of life. It was difficult for a Christian to totally separate from the culture, because there were trade associations and social conventions that were all centered on the worship of pagan gods. In many places the Christians were seen as atheists because they did not participate in the culture. Even the purchase of meat in the market was suspect, because of the likelihood that it was part of a sacrifice to a pagan god or to the emperor.

In the church of Christendom, the church held great power. The temptation was to use that power for the gain of the church. Those centuries were rife with abuses of church people in the service of the powers in the church.

We live in an age of post-Christendom. The church has lost its clout. The culture would like to shut the church down because we are narrow and exclusive.

Our form of trial is in dealing with this pressure. The question is all about how we maintain our witness for Jesus in the face of a culture that does not respect us, does not want us, and does not like us. The culture has taken away our voice.

People who have lived in times when the church was respected want to figure out how to get back the power we once had, and the respect. They tend to want to fight a political battle. Since the culture has lost its way on morality, these people want to legislate morality. Since culture doesn’t want us to be so narrow, these people become more narrow and more militant about it. Since the culture demands that we wear a mask, these people will not wear on no matter what.

These people are looking to political lords for salvation and have lost their first love.

It is very difficult to find a right answer to the culture, but I’m convinced that this response is the wrong one.

We need to focus on Jesus. We need to continue to obey him. We need to continue to witness to him. We need to learn to suffer these present trials and we must expect them to get worse. We must be among those who emerge from the trials having washed our robes in the blood of Jesus so they are made white.

Let us be in continual prayer for the church, that the God of heaven might strengthen us for the trials.

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