Our response to the world around us is crucial to our witness and call. It is easy to allow our culture to influence our thinking and, as a result, our actions. Paul warns us to “not let the world around us squeeze us into its mold’ (Rom 12:2). I have heard it said that if you place a kettle on a burner with a frog in it and slowly increase the temperature, it will not notice the heat and eventually suffer the consequences. I am not sure this would pass the “Myth Busters” test, but it is certainly applicable to the culture. It is easy for us to get caught in the current of culture, and unknowingly swept away to undesirable places.
What’s the solution? Paul gives it to us, we need to “be transformed by the renewal of our minds” (see: Rom 12:2). This occurs when we give ourselves to the Lord (heart, mind, and soul) (see: Rom 12:1). God’s desire for us is to influence culture, not the other way around. Another way of looking at it is that the Lord wants us to be thermostats, not thermometers. A thermometer simply reflects the temperature of whatever is being measured. But, a thermostat has the ability to change the temperature. Believers are called to change the temperature, reflecting Christ’s heart and character.
I believe God desires for us, His church, to partner with Him by sharing His love and message with others. A wonderful blueprint is found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). The sermon was addressed to disciples and a large crowd of listeners to guide them and us in life. It is an ethics class for believers centered on God’s love, truth, and character. It is well worth the read.
It is all too easy to be well-intentioned and actually not represent Christ, but reflect culture. When we take our eyes off Christ, we drift off mission and allow good intentions to be a poor substitute for what the Lord would desire.
When we live adrift, critical thinking is neglected. Critical thinking for the believer is the analysis of facts, using the Bible as the foundation of truth, to form a God-honoring judgment. When cultural groupthink is mindlessly followed, the result is detrimental. It certainly does not lead us to be the world changers we have been created to be for the cause of Christ. On the contrary, when we allow the Spirit of God to use the Word of God in our life to form our thinking and direct our actions, we are unleashed to be the change agents our world desperately needs.
It is vital for me to make it clear that you and I are not the answer. God is the answer. We are not superior to anyone because we are believers, we are ambassadors of almighty God called to humbly serve Him and others with His love and truth. As God’s grace leads us to repentance and salvation by revealing His great love and our great need for forgiveness and relationship with Him, our reflection of His grace to others is what the Spirit uses to minister and draw them unto Himself.
The world we live in needs believers who are willing to know God and make Him known. It might seem easier to not make waves and go with the flow. Still, God calls us, as His ambassadors, to do the inconvenient thing, the sometimes-unpopular thing, and point people to Jesus by rejecting the mold the world would make us fit and allow the Spirit to transform us into image-bearers of Christ. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!