How Does Jesus Respond to Culture?

image

Seen anything in the news recently?  The past few weeks have provided lots of conversation points for eager commentators.  I have been a Christian for over two decades, and recently I’ve grown so weary of hearing people who want to tell me what Jesus would have to say about the issues gripping our country in an idealogical battle.  At some point, I want to tune everything out.   I live my life in Christ on the basic premise that Jesus is more than a set of ideas.  Jesus is greater that the collection of His teachings.  At the very core, Jesus is a PERSON (a divine, supreme, Holy One at that).  At some point, what would it look like to allow Jesus to speak for Himself?  What does Jesus say in the midst of a culture war?  Can He bring peace?  Here are four answers that bring me peace.

1.  Jesus says that shouting is pointless.
Matthew 1818 “Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.    He is my Beloved, who pleases me.I will put my Spirit upon him,    and he will proclaim justice to the nations.19 He will not fight or shout    or raise his voice in public.

It feels good to be right.  It feels good to raise my voice and to be heard.  It feels good to accomplish my own sense of temporary JUSTICE, but it’s not real justice.  According to scriptures, justice is the action of setting wrong things right.  Jesus seeks to set the worst things (death, evil, & sin) right, once and for all.  



2.  Jesus says the culture war is an illusion - the real battle is with the prince of darkness.

Matthew 1825 Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive.27 And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. 28 But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you.

It’s easy to get mad at people we don’t agree with, but when we give in, we send the real enemy in a victory dance.  Turmoil, strife, and anger are hallmarks of Satan’s strategy.  There is almost always a real battle behind the obvious battle.  As believers, we should not be so easily bated.  To be like Jesus, we’ve got to look to His Kingdom in order to discern what’s really going on.  When we fight the real battle, we realize the victory is not aided by our frustration, but rather, our desperation to see lives changed.  When we fight the real battle, we talk less and pray more.  We hate less, and love more.  We share less of our opinions are share more of the Gospel.



3.  Jesus says the stakes are real.

Matthew 1830 “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

No one speaks for Jesus.  Jesus is quite capable of speaking for Himself. He doesn’t shout, because He always bears the weight of His own Almighty Glory.  The simple reality is this:  you either belong to Christ through the forgiveness of sins, or you are His enemy.  Jesus didn’t come to live/die & live again, just so that bad people could become better.  Jesus came so that we would die to ourselves, and be born again.  

The stakes couldn’t be more real.  If my engagement in the culture war galvanizes people to stick to their guns and flee any mention of the Gospel, what good have I done?  If I win a debate on social media, with a family member at dinner, or with a co-worker, what does it profit if I have never considered their soul?

I think there are people who claim to be FOR Jesus, who are actually hindering His mission.  I think there are others who claim to be FOR Jesus who use Him name as an excuse to do what they want.  This feels good in the moment, but when it really comes to what matters….


4.  Jesus makes the call.
There are a lot of people who throw around the name of Jesus to make a point.  I get it.  It feels good.  The only problem is, we don’t decide who belongs to Jesus.  It doesn’t matter if you claim Him - it only matters who He will claim for Himself.

Matthew 1846 As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”[g]  48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!

No one gets an automatic pass into the kingdom of God.  Jesus further illustrates God’s will in John 3.  He tells a really religious person that in order to be a member of God’s kingdom, “You must be born again.“

———————

In the end, find rest in the fact that Jesus is victorious.  He is the one who has overcome.  We will grow weary when we attempt to speak for Jesus.  The last time I checked, Jesus is alive.  When we have questions, we don’t have to talk about Him like He’s not in the room.  We can seek His presence.  We can live for His Kingdom.  We can share His life.  That’s the way Jesus has been transforming people and cultures for centuries.  

Aaron is the pastor of Spring of Life, a new church in Portland, Oregon. He's the owner of Amplify Creative.