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Culture and its Effects

June 10, 2008

Have you ever wondered about why a particular group of people is so strange?  Take the British, for example.  Why on earth do they insist upon all those wrong names?  Its not petrol, its gasoline!  And who drives on the right side of the road, anyway?  Or has tea promptly at four every day.  The fact is, they grew up with a set of assumptions that we do not share, and they have a set of expectations that, if they flaunted it, would have social consequences.

One of the things that marks Christians is that they are to create a different culture.  It is not to be a completely separate culture.  We are to be in the world, but not of it after all.  However, our culture is to be unique.  While we are bound to share elements of our wider culture, we must discern where the culture at large is against Christ, and follow a different path in those cases.  I believe that the church is God’s main instrument for allowing us to create a culture of holiness in the midst of a culture swimming with sinfulness.

The main example I can think of is my attitudes and actions towards sex before marriage.  I don’t engage in that behavior, partly because of my personal convictions, but there is also an element where my church culture shapes my behavior.  After all, there are people around me who would be affected if I went ahead and disobeyed God’s good design for sex.  To go against this aspect of my culture is unthinkable to me as not celebrating Christmas.  Not that I am incapable of doing it, but that there are strong reasons that I do not desire to break God’s commands against pre-marital sex.  This is the attitude we should bring to sin in our lives – if it is something unthinkable to our culture of believers and goes against clear commands of Scripture, we should treat this sin as something we could never do.

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