When the Gospel makes contact with culture

Published June 27, 2015 by

We just finished a lengthy study of Galatians. I have grown to appreciate throughout this study, the culture dynamics involved and the position the Apostle Paul found himself in. A man birthed and, for some time, living in the permissive culture of Asia Minor, then educated in the moralistic society of Jerusalem, finds himself a missionary to that permissive society.   Really spins your head.

Moreover, what about those early Christian Jews who came from Jerusalem to investigate Paul’s work? Coming from a moralistic society, to the permissive culture must have been shockingly difficult for the Jerusalem Christians who heard about the spread of the gospel to Asia Minor and the gentiles. Moving from a society where adultery was firmly punished in the streets to a culture were prostitution took place as part of temple worship surely was a stretch. Therefore, it shouldn’t be to anyone’s surprise when Christian Jews came to check out the wonderful work of Paul in Asia Minor, they were disturbed by what they saw in the culture around these small enclaves of faith.   It is no wonder that some felt a need to put on layers of laws to protect the nascent church?

But Paul was different. He had full confidence in Jesus Christ and the power of God to dramatically change hearts and revolutionize society.   He didn’t soft peddle morality by any means. Nor did he make it the center of his ministry.   The center of his ministry was the emphasis on the indwelling Holy Spirit which changes the soil from, which who we are and who we will be, grows.   Paul was a KISS kind of guy. A Keep-it-Spiritual, Stupid kind of guy.   In Galatians, he says because Jesus is Our Savior and Our Model, we should model our lives after Him. So get on with it! Do it!

Today, I can’t help but wonder if we engage, unknowingly, in the same sort of false hope as some of those early Christian Jews. The false hope that laws and rules will save us from the culture around us. The belief that we can change the course of our culture without engaging and changing hearts along the way. Unknowingly, we emphasize the former over the later.

We try to protect ourselves by rules and laws and then become frustrated when those rules and laws provide little protection in the end.

I love what the late Chuck Colson said in response to those whose hope was in government’s ability to decide what was right and wrong. He said, “Where is the hope? I meet millions of people who feel demoralized by the decay around us.

The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws we pass, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that’s where our hope is in this country. And that’s where our hope is in life.”

Nations are changed, by people whose hearts and minds are supernaturally changed by the power of God. That was Paul’s passion. He spoke of it in Jerusalem, Antioch, to the church in Galatia. That is where he put his trust. That should be ours too.


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