Culture. We each have a particular culture that we were born into that is made up of our language, customs, traditions, institutions, values and beliefs.
Culture is one of the primary drivers of our lives. It influences our decisions, our perspectives, our faith and our desires. There are few things that affect our lives as much as our culture.
One of the interesting things that I have observed about culture is that it isn’t always the culture in which you were born that influences you the most. It’s often the culture in which a person lives. People like to fit in so they are willing to make significant changes in order to be accepted by the larger group. I’ve seen this with people who have moved from one country to another, and to a lesser extent with people who have moved from one region of our country to another.
Christians have to deal with culture on two levels, the physical and the spiritual. We find ourselves simultaneously living in two cultures and they often clash with each other.
The question for Christians is, which culture should exert the greatest influence on our lives, the culture of the country in which we live or the culture of the country where we are going (heaven)?
That’s the struggle. It’s been the struggle for followers of God since the beginning.
So how do we deal with two cultures and their influence on our lives?
Jesus made it clear that we are not of this world (John 17:14), and the emphasis of the New Testament is on our heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20), not our earthly citizenship.
In Hebrews 11, the writer of Hebrews tells us how faithful saints of the past viewed their culture in relationship to their heavenly citizenship:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
For these faithful, the culture of heaven was preferred over the culture in which they lived. Their eyes were on where they were going, not on where they were. They knew there was something better than this life. Their spiritual culture was the dominant influence in their lives.
For us to be godly, faithful Christians the same must be true about us. While our earthly culture will undoubtedly have some influence on us, our spiritual, heavenly culture must be the dominant influence in our lives.
Stay in the Word