The fastest way for me to remember how much Spanish I actually know is to drop me off somewhere in some Spanish-speaking country and leave me there alone for a week. By the end of the week, I’ll be practically conversant. But if you were to ask me something in Spanish just off the cuff now? Yeah, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.
It’s so easy to adopt the culture of the world you live in. Well, maybe easy isn’t the right word, but the longer you live in a different culture than the one you were born in, the easier I think it becomes to fit in. In some cases, that’s what needs to happen, especially with missionaries who leave America and go to foreign lands. The best thing they can do is to leave American culture in America because other countries don’t need us; they need Christ. America can’t take care of America, so why should a missionary take anything American with them to another country? America needs Christ, just like everyone else. So in that case, forsaking the culture you were born into is a good idea, within reason, of course.
But what if the culture you’re moving into rejects God completely? So how do you live in it without following it? How do you eat the watermelon and spit out the seeds?
Today’s verse is Colossians 2:8.
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
The verse this morning caught my eye because I don’t think of philosophies as something that can capture you. But they do. The world and people in the world who have good intentions try to rationalize their existence, try to make sense of things that can’t make sense, and the result is a belief system without hope and without purpose. Because the world clings to the idea that there is no God — or if there is a God, He doesn’t care.
That’s what they believe. So that’s how they live. And once you step into that sort of culture, once you begin to adopt those kinds of precepts in your life, they become like a prison. You’d think embracing the concept that you have no rules would be freeing. But that’s not the case. Living a life with no rules just makes you a slave to sin.
I’ve been on many mission’s trips, as a high school student and as an adult. And part of me sort of feels like life is one big mission’s trip. After all, this world isn’t our home. We all may have been born here, but we were born again in the culture of Heaven. That’s our real home. That’s where our family is. So every day we live down here is a mission’s experience where we are supposed to tell others about Christ, to support each other as we go through life and to portray an example of who Christ really is.
As an American, I can tell you that the culture I live in right now isn’t healthy. Granted, there are some aspects that are good, the concept of freedom and free will and the idea of personal responsibility, but those aspects of American culture are slowly disappearing. American culture in the 21st century isn’t something any Christian should aspire to adopt. How can you exist in this culture and stay on target? How can we live here and keep believing in the things that matter when all the things that don’t matter scream so loud it’s hard to hear anything else?
The key is in the verse. Empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense comes from the world. And if it comes from the world, it will be damaging. So stay away from them. Don’t let them into your life. Instead, know what Christ says. Know how Christ lived. Know His perspective on life. And adopt that.
It sounds easy. But it’s not.
We are surrounded every moment by faith system of our world. And while we are surrounded by them constantly — on television and radio and the internet and even our closest friends — it’s easy to adopt their perspective. But the moment you agree to see things their way, you’re opening the door to let the culture take over.
I blogged yesterday about a filter verse we should run our thoughts through; that verse is sufficient for today too. Don’t just switch off your brain and accept everything you hear on television or on the radio or on the internet. Don’t just accept everything you hear at church. Don’t just accept everything your good Christian friends tell you.
If you belong to Christ, this world isn’t our home. So this culture isn’t our home either. Question everything. And if the answers contradict Scripture, if the answers you find go against what Christ has said, don’t believe it. And if you can’t understand it, trust God to work it out.