Thursday, August 22, 2013


                The 1960’s was a monumental turning point in the cultural landscape of America. Young adults rebelled against the well-established norms of society. All forms of authority were called into question. The “Establishment” was vilified. Long held moral standards were abandoned. Religion was deemed irrelevant. We rushed head long into a world of relativism and self-indulgence. “Live for the moment” became the rallying cry of a generation. One cynical pundit put it this way. Live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse.

                Today we live in a world that is greedily consuming the fruit of the cultural revolution of the 60’s. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us about those who would lead our world into a course of self-destruction. "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:15-16 (NIV)The fruit of the 60’s is in abundance; and it is rotten fruit. Our cultural revolution promised unrestrained happiness and abundance. What it has produced is heartache and hopelessness.

                Every day the moral fabric of our world is unraveled a little more. Restraint of any kind has almost been completely eliminated. We clamor for more and more freedom to do whatever we desire, and then sob uncontrollably when people throw off restraint and follow their evil desires to a tragic end. We are told that man is basically good, and given enough freedom and self-determination, he will do what is right and proper. Then we are surprised when it doesn’t turn out that way. We willingly abandon the idea of universal truth, moral standards and the idea of right and wrong, then call for justice when a young man walks into a theater and guns down innocent people. We are reaping what we have sown, and we don’t like it.

                Paul warned us about the decline of our world in Romans 1:18-32. It is a long passage, but worth reflecting upon in its entirety.

                The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.
                        Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

                Paul’s words read like today’s news. This is the world in which we live. We have a choice to make about how we will face this world. We can embrace it and live for the moment, disregarding any future consequences. We can slip into despair and try to isolate ourselves from the decay. Or we can choose to be agents of redemption and renewal. The early Church was a small band of seemingly powerless individuals who turned their world up-side down. God can do that again.

                The first step is for us to get our own perspective right. Out thinking has been shaped by our culture. Unknowingly we have absorbed values and beliefs that are faulty. We need to reprogram our thinking before we can recreate our world. The only way to do that is to surrender our lives to the control of Christ. As Paul puts it, we must become living sacrifices. As we yield control of our lives to Christ, He will renew our thinking.

                Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

                The second step is to become positive change agents in our world. The moral shift in our culture today began with a few dissenting voices calling for change. They were determined to get their message heard and accepted. They were relentless. The results are obvious.

                Jesus has called us to be just such change agents. Instead of tearing down the morals and values that God has ordained, we are to build them up, one person at a time. We are being shouted down in the public forum, but we can still shift the tide in the coffee shop, the classroom and the neighborhood. As followers of Jesus, we have the power to change our world, if we will live out our faith in genuine ways. Jesus called us salt and light. He said that these are inherent qualities in one who is His disciple. Therefore, it is up to us to exercise those qualities to the best or our ability.

                "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

                We do not have to tackle this daunting task alone. We have an ally who will go with us into every battle. He will empower us to stand against the storm of cultural relativism and moral decay. We can take our stand because we know that in the end God will prevail.

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