By Jerry Smith
The SeriesChristian Culture in the USA
Christian Culture in the Philippines
We've looked at the Christian culture in both the U.S.A. and the Philippines. In my opinion, there are three examples of how we as Christians can both live and witness in these environments and have the same outcome: magnifying the power of God in the Christian's life.
1. Christians Can Follow Christ's Example
Perhaps one way that Christians can recover from what I believe is largely a self-caused disdain by the general public is by returning to the example of the very Person who loved us and bought us (Galatians 2:20). Jesus, during His earthly ministry was not always embraced, and at times was met with open hostility, yet "for no evil that He had done" (Isaiah 53:9). How much more many Christians today who do warrant some ill-response from non-believers who are perhaps fed-up with the behaviors and attitudes of overzealous Christians. Nevertheless, in Jesus' case, though He had done no evil and received hostility, yet he was meek (Matthew 11:29). Therefore, Paul, in Philippians 2:5 says, "let this mind be in you," in reference to the humility of Christ. We are also reminded by Peter how Jesus, "when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:23). It is clear that those who claim the name of Jesus, "ought also walk, even as he walked" (1 John 2:6).
2. In Hostile Environments Christians Can Be Peculiar Not Worldly
These days the line between Christians and the world is becoming increasingly blurred. Christians get body art like the world, they dress in attire that is indistinguishable between believers and non-, they listen to music that is of the world or very similar to that of the world, and they sound like the world when discussing issues such as politics, homosexual marriage, women leading worship, and worship styles for example. The Lord says, "learn not the way of the heathen" in Jeremiah 10:2 meaning that we as the people of God are to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:16). The Lord tells the people of Israel in Leviticus 20:7, "Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy: for I am the LORD your God" as an indicator to the nations around them that they were the people of God.
As the church, the called-out people of God, we are also called to be a "peculiar" people in this world (1 Peter 2:9). This can be summarized to mean that although we live on this earth, we are pilgrims on our way to a heavenly city (Hebrews 11:13, 1 Peter 2:11) and by very nature will behave differently. As a matter of fact, we are warned about being "entangled with the things of this world" in 2 Timothy 2:4. As mentioned in Part 1, the Roman Christians lived in Rome with the pagan practices of the time yet they lived their lives in such contrast to their world that it got the attention of some and led to more converts. Their lives were a testimony to being citizens of the Kingdom of God. They did not beat anyone over the head with the Bible, promote offense, or condemn others that we know of. They were quiet and peaceful even in persecution.
3. Christians Can Follow Paul's Example on Mars Hill
These days, at least in the U.S.A. and increasingly in the Philippines, believers live among people who no longer recognize the God of the Bible. We live in an era of religious relativism, moral relativism, and religious pluralism. There is this sense of rebellion in my opinion from the perceived chains of God (c/w Psalm 2:1-3) so that we are now operating in a culture ignorant of the Bible, God, and Jesus Christ's work on the cross. This was similar to the Greek culture of the people Paul was called to speak to on Mars Hill.
To draw from a message preached by Dr. Voddie Baucham  on adapting to culture, Paul was given a magnificent opportunity on the greatest stage in the Gentile world of that time, not because he was like them, but because he was preaching and teaching Jesus Christ and the resurrection (Acts 17:18). He was faithful to Jesus, not worried about blending in with the world or retorting to their comments of him being a "babbler" (Acts 17:18). One lesson we can glean from this passage is that we see a meekness from Paul combined with respect for the culture of the people he was addressing. He did not attack them, but from all appearances treated them with love out of deep desire to speak up about their idolatry (Acts 17:16). Unlike what we may be seeing happening today where harsh words delivered from the pride of being a Christian actually provoke people. A concept promoted by Tim Keller  speaks of a "grace narrative versus a moral narrative" where less religion and morals are advocated and more real Christianity as discussed above is practiced.
Finally, the main challenge for Christians in the Philippines is not that religion is completely missing from the local culture and we want to introduce it (as perhaps in some tribes in South America or Africa who have never heard the Gospel). The main challenge in is keeping the religious mindset alive in order to witness to people from a similar worldview: That God is God, and the Bible is His Word. In that sense, people become similar to the Jews of old where Paul reasoned with them out of the Scriptures (Acts 17:2). This, as opposed to having to start from scratch, such as is increasingly becoming the case in the U.S.A. where, in many cases, you start first with the Creator, present their sin then redemption as Paul did here in Acts 17.
1. Baucham, V. (2012). Adapting to the Culture...Or Not —; Voddie Baucham (Video). YouTube. Published by Truth Endures. Accessed August 08, 2016.
2. Keller, T. (2010). [Official] Tim Keller — Reason for God — The Veritas Forum (Video). YouTube. Published by The Veritas Forum. Accessed August 09, 2016.
Image Credit: marie jolicoeur; "standing alone in the middle of the world..."; Public Domain
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Current-Issues | Ministry-Church
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Published on 6-19-17