Category Archives: Culture
Back in the dark ages when I was a freshman at Biola College, Dr. Curtis Mitchell addressed his Old Testament Survey class. He encouraged us, “Be mature about the rules of Biola.” At that time, all the students had to subscribe to “The Pledge,” five things that Biola students could not participate in while a student at the school.
I would echo Dr. Mitchell’s words by saying, Be mature about the rules of COVID-19. If required, wear a facemask, and wear it properly over your nose and mouth, not just over your chin or only covering your mouth. Wait patiently outside a store until you can enter. Follow the directional arrows and go with the flow. Practice social distancing. Register for church attendance if you are allowed to attend.
Be mature by accepting the rules and guidelines with good grace. The apostle Paul wrote, “give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Stop complaining about wearing facemasks, school closures, directional arrows, and oft-repeated words that you have grown tired of. Model maturity, contentment, and peacefulness to those around you.
Be mature about what God is doing in your life. The apostle James wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). Stop chafing against what you cannot control. Through your mindset, demonstrate that you have confidence in God’s plan and purpose.
Be mature about how God uses trials to help us grow up. John 15:1-11 describes how God uses pruning and shaping to move us from no fruit to fruit to more fruit to much fruit. James 1:2-12 and Romans 5:3-5 explain how God uses trials to produce proven, mature character in our lives. Give God permission to use this pandemic to help shape your character and make you more effective for his service.
If you want to understand the philosophical underpinnings of the protests and riots occurring today, read “Marxism, Postmodernism, and Critical Race Theory.” It is not the easiest to digest, but it will give you a much better understanding of what it taking place in our world and why.
- Portland protesters tear down “racist” statue of Thomas Jefferson
- Orange County Democrats condemn “racist” comments by John Wayne, call for airport to drop his name
- Christopher Columbus statues torn down, drenched in paint, defaced in cities across country
- Princeton drops Woodrow Wilson’s name from school due to “racist thinking”
“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Harvey Dent, AKA “Two-Face” in The Dark Knight.
It seems that our society has become overly sensitive. You have to think twice and parse your words three times before telling a joke, making a comment, tweeting a response, posting a blog, or wearing a T-Shirt. One false word can get you hauled into court, flamed on social media, or bring a firestorm of disapproval down on your head. You have to be oh so careful and cautious about what you say and what you put in print.
And yet, isn’t that what Scripture calls the Christ follower to be and to do. In Ephesians 4:25-32, the apostle Paul wrote about the nature of relationships. In verses 29-30 in particular, he addressed the subject of our words.
Ephesians 4:29–30 – 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Rather than speaking thoughtlessly and flippantly, we are to consider how our words will impact those who listen to and/or read what we say. We are to make sure we don’t offer worthless, unwholesome, or speech that corrupts people. Instead, we are to speak words that build up and encourage. We are to speak words of grace.
We might rationalize and say, “It’s no big deal. I was only joking.” However, Paul goes on to say that what we say and how we say it can bring grief to the Holy Spirit. Our words matter because they can displease God.
Rather than speak flippantly, rather than talk off the top of our heads or the tip of our tongue, we should follow the advice of the psalmist and post a guard in front of our lips to ensure that no offending word or speech escapes our mouth.
Psalm 39:1 – I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
Psalm 141:3 – Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
When I worked in a steel fabricating shop during college, the dictum was drilled into my head, “Measure twice, cut once.” Perhaps we need the same advice about our words. “Think twice, speak once.” Make sure your words, posts, blogs, tweets, and T-Shirts are filled with grace.
My wife and I have become fans of Masterpiece Theater on PBS. We have watched and enjoyed several of their programs including Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Endeavour, Poldark, Victoria, World at War, and Grantchester. Several of the programs are historical dramas that provide insight into the history, culture, and values of the respective time period in Great Britain.
While we have enjoyed most of the programs, we have been surprised and puzzled by how the clergy is portrayed in Grantchester. It is a drama that takes place in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Cambridge. The main character is a Vicar in the Church of England named Sydney Chambers who works with the local police to help solve crimes. The stories are entertaining murder mysteries.
In the first season, Sydney is suffering from PTSD (although the term is not used) from his time as a soldier in the Scots Guards during World War II. He self-medicates by consuming alcohol and smoking. Over the course of the first four seasons of the show, he also sleeps with at least three different women. Rather than being portrayed as a rogue, Sydney is viewed by all as a “good man,” someone who is simply “human.” Because of his actions, he struggles with his guilt, identity, purpose, and faith in God and the Church, which in turn leads him deeper into alcoholism. As Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (who doesn’t believe in God) tells Sydney, “You fall into the cycle of sin, guilt, drink, sin, guilt, drink …” When they show Sydney preaching, he is giving pious platitudes and self-help wisdom.
In addition to the Vicar, there is a Curate named Leonard, who wrestles with homosexual leanings. There is also an Archdeacon who covers up the sexual abuse practiced by another Vicar in a different parish.
On the one hand, the dramas are well written, entertaining murder mysteries. As an historical drama, they present an accurate portrayal of the 1950’s & 1960’s church culture in England. On the other hand, the program subtly devalues those who serve in ministry. The clergy are portrayed as hypocrites who preach godliness but engage in sinful habits behind closed doors. Dramas like Grantchester subtly devalue and lower our respect for clergy. No wonder the church is viewed as irrelevant.
Injustice. Murder. Cries to defund the police. Protesters seize a section of Capitol Hill in Seattle. Rioting and looting are prevalent across the country. Politicians snipe at one another through social media. Each state has different rules and guidelines for reopening after COVID-19. People live in fear. Fake news in the media. Celebrities state their position on social issues. Leaders jockeying for position and power.
It feels like we have stepped out of the Way Back Machine to the days of the Judges where “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
O Lord of Hosts, please have mercy!
Before investing in a retirement fund, endorsing a political candidate, or taking a stand on a social issue, take the time to find out more detail. Rather than listen to sound bites and skim headlines, go deeper to truly understand what you getting involved in.
- What countries or industries does the retirement fund invest in?
- Where do they make their money?
- Do they invest in companies (e.g., alcohol, tobacco) or countries (e.g., human rights violations) where you have concerns?
- Does the philosophy of the investment firm coincide with your own?
- What are the values of the political candidate?
- Where do they stand on issues that you are concerned about?
- Do they demonstrate integrity?
- What is their track record on issues close to your heart?
- Do you fully agree with the statements made by the leaders of the social issue?
- Has the movement been coopted or hijacked by another group? (e.g., “Justice Smith comes out as queer, calls for queer and trans inclusion in Black Lives Matter”, “28 Organizations That Empower Black Communities”, “There’s a growing call to defund the police: Here’s what it means“)
Before taking a stand, take the time to pray. Ask God for wisdom to know when to speak, when to stand, when to be silent. Pray for discernment.
When you do take a stand and speak up, be gracious. Share the love of Christ. If you are a Christ follower, remember that you represent the Savior and not merely your own opinion. And expect criticism from those who don’t like or agree with your thoughts.