© Halfpoint | istockphoto.com

How We Win the Culture War

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailReading Time: 6 minutes

Seems these days that whenever we tune into the news, there’s a new battleground in the culture war. Whether it’s abortion, book banning, critical race theory, LBGTQ rights, or transgenders, a fight is brewing somewhere. The left-leaning media is even using the label Christian Nationalists to describe (or defame) those who believe they are fighting on the side of God in this culture war.

I find the situation disturbing and feel that many believers in this fight are unwittingly doing damage to the cause of Christ in this world. We have been sidetracked, focused on fighting windmills rather than slaying the true dragons that ravage us.

Minds and hope

I understand the motivation behind Christians desiring everyone to live life the way it is mapped out in the Bible, the way God intended it — the most positive and healthy way, the most human. I live, as best I can, and with God’s help, this kind of life and find it abundantly fulfilling. I also wish this for all, especially those I care for deeply.

However, we must first remember how we came to have this special life.

In Peter’s first letter, he spells it out. After speaking of our being born again, of having a salvation paid for by Jesus and an inheritance awaiting us in the heavens, he writes:

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16, NIV).

Peter begins this section with a phrase that literally translates “having girded the loins of your minds” (see also Ephesians 6:14). This is a one-time past experience where we tightened our minds for action.

In the ancient Middle East, men wore tunics that were difficult to run in. In order to run more easily, they would pull the back of the tunic up through their legs and tuck it into the front of their belt, forming something like pants. Peter is saying that, because we put aside our old lives, they are no longer an encumbrance to us.

We did this when we came to Christ. We experienced a paradigm shift that changed our minds, our perspectives, our desires, and readied us for action in Christ’s kingdom.

We were converted.

We repented.

Peter goes on to say that we are to set our hope on the grace to be brought to us at the Second Coming — not the hope that we might change the existing culture into something of our (or God’s) liking. We are not to put our hope in change through government. And we are never called to create heaven on earth.

Flee passions, be set apart

Then Peter tells us, as obedient children, to not be conformed (shaped) by the passions we had before, when we were ignorant of God’s salvation plan. Many of us had something that preoccupied us before we came to Christ, something we invested our lives in. We are to be aware of this and not allow this addiction to lesser things, these idolatries, to again have a hold on us.

Finally, Peter commands us to be holy, set apart for God.

Throughout the New Testament we get a picture of what it means to be holy. It means we live before God, that we are addicted to Him and His Word. We live a life of humility and high moral standards. We make choices that reflect our Christian values. This affects the entire spectrum of our lives: our relationships, entertainment, purchases, and even the clothes we wear. We do all for God and His glory. This life of worship, love, and joy, of integrity and hard work, and of marriage stability, will set us apart in this world.

Imagine if the Christian divorce rate dropped to zero — especially because we were so happy in our beautiful, affirming marriages. The world would be aghast. They would be clamoring to discover our secret. We need to admit that the world doesn’t listen to us because our divorce rate is nearly the same as theirs. The Christian abortion rate mirrors that of society. The suicide rate is also similar. There are child abuse and molestation, adultery and addiction in the church as in the world.

Worst of all, some have reduced Christianity to a set of doctrines to ascribe to, rather than a new life to be lived. We have become fat doctors scolding everyone else, and telling them to lose weight.

Shame on us.

We have tree trunks in our eyes.

All because we have been using power and manipulation to bring about the kingdom.

Admiration and hostility

And what happens when we renew our focus and do live according to Christ and contrary to the culture around us, when we do live the life we are called to? The Bible gives us two reactions: admiration and hostility.

We are told that the Christians in the first century were held in high regard, even by those who did not join them (Acts 2:47; 5:13). My non-Christian boss once asked me why I worked so hard for her, especially when all the other employees would relax and goof around when she wasn’t there. I explained that I wasn’t working for her; I was working for my God, whose eyes were always on me.

Her response? She started hiring Christians.

When another non-Christian boss asked me to lie for him, telling someone on the phone that he wasn’t there, I refused. He was furious with me. I told him, “If you know I won’t lie for you, then you know I won’t lie to you.” He respected me thereafter and actually promoted me.

The other response is persecution, which many in the churches Peter addresses were experiencing. Peter’s recipients were being pressured to conform, to accommodate the culture around them. Depending on the degree that the culture requires complete devotion, the persecution can be intense, even fatal. Peter stresses that our inheritance in Christ is worth any suffering (Paul makes the same argument in Romans 8:18). We are not to give in to pressure just to get along. We are not to mimic the culture.

Peter does not say, “Run for school board or Congress in an attempt to take over the government, so that we can legislate the culture in a way that fits our values and makes us more comfortable.” In fact, those who would choose this road negate the very essence of what they say they believe. People cannot live like Christians if they have not been born again and filled with the Spirit of God. Legislating morality is tantamount to putting sheepskins on wolves.

Living for Christ

So what are we to do? How are we to fight and win the culture war?

We Christians are to live for Christ. It’s as simple (and profoundly difficult) as that. We are to be in the world, but truly not of it. We are to be living examples of Christ’s kingdom on earth, re-presenting Jesus in our personal lives and in our loving relationships.

Should we vote? Of course! We should take every opportunity to make our voices heard. Should we serve others? Participate in community groups? Be involved in sports? Yes. We need to be engaged in society, working to help make people’s lives better. Think of the engagement of Joseph working in Egypt or Daniel in Mesopotamia, Esther and Mordecai in Persia, or Paul in the Mediterranean world. It is in this discourse that people get to see the difference of our lives of joy and love. Maybe they will want what we have. We are not to live under a bushel.

How do we change the culture? The culture will be truly changed when individual members of the society are changed by God on the inside — when they are born again and live for Christ. Then their lives will have a different trajectory, and a different Spirit will inhabit them. But this won’t happen unless we are leading the way, making Jesus first in our lives.

As Peter explains (1 Peter 1:2), we have been called to live as a counter-culture, as a community of strangers who have a Christ-centered lifestyle different from that of the dominant culture.

When this happens, we will truly be the salt and light of the earth.

Mike Apodaca is an ordained minister with a master’s degree in theology, an educator who has taught classes from kindergarten to college, a speaker, and a writer. Now retired, Mike is vice president of the High Desert branch of the California Writers Club. Mike has self-published four books and stories in anthologies, including the prestigious Literary Review. He has been happily married for 40 years and enjoys time with his two children and two grandchildren. Mike lives in Hesperia, CA. Visit his website: Godsendbook.com.

Latest posts by bibleadvocate (see all)