Indulge me for a moment because this might not make sense until I explain it a bit.
Many Christians don’t know how to change the culture around them. We get frustrated because we feel helpless and overwhelmed and confused. We say, I don’t like the way the world is, I wish it was different. But what can I do?
What Christians unwisely do is they react to culture by dividing it into sides.
They say, We have the Christians over here on my side, the Christians are the good guys, they wear white hats, God loves them more. And on the opposite side we’ve got the non-Christians, the sinful people, the bad people, they wear the black hats.
The Christians declare a cultural war on the non-Christians.
But the Bible doesn’t teach that. Your spiritual beliefs and your church home shouldn’t buy into the good guys verses the bad guys.
There’s only one good Guy, His name is Jesus. The rest of us, we’re all bad guys. There is one white hat in the entire Bible, it’s worn by Jesus. One Person rides the white horse, and it’s Jesus.
Every other person is bad. Most bad people die without Jesus, some bad people are forgiven and will live forever with Jesus.
The church believes in equal rights, meaning, everyone is with sin. Everyone. You, me, your church elders, your grandma, Tim Tebow, the Duggars, the Trumps, Duck Dynasty, Desperate Housewives, the Pope, Dave Ramsey – all stained by sin. All loved by God. And only a few trust in Jesus as Lord and are cleansed.
Not everything has to be an upstream battle. I don’t see any evidence in the book of Acts, when the first century Christians are being arrested and beaten and killed for loving Jesus, there’s not one meeting where a revolt is planned against Caesar.
So today, yes, prayer will be taken out of schools and God will be taken out of the pledge of allegiance and abortions will remain legalized and people will be arrested for feeding the homeless and same-sex marriages will be law and no-fault divorce is easy and Islam is growing fast on college campuses and the racial discord in our country is horrific. Somewhere there’s a Christian fighting all of these issues.
In the latter part of the book of Genesis, when Joseph gets to Egypt, God is with him. He looks around and there is plenty to be unhappy about. There is plenty to be disappointed and angry about. Rather than being discussed and declaring war on Egypt in the name of his God, he serves people and blesses them. That’s what the early church does too. They didn’t attack the Roman government. They trusted God was in control and served the people around them.
Historically, in our country’s history, if people are going to go upstream and change something in culture, they’ll have a march. The Civil Rights movement was very effective. The church, not so much.
The church is like, Everyone is sleeping with everyone. They’re all perverted. Abortions and divorce and same-sex relations and cohabitation is running rampant. We’re going on a walk to change things. We will make poster board signs and bring megaphones and gather all the other people who are angry like us.
And the Christians walk, walk, walk for Jesus. March for Jesus. Sign the petition for Jesus. Complain on Facebook for Jesus.
I’m not against walking for Jesus, but the non-Christians don’t look at the Christians marching and think, Oh man, we’ve got to change the way we’re living! We’ve got to change the laws we’re instituting! We’ve got to change the music and the movies we’re making! Quick! How can we start over? They’re walking!!!!! They’re posting on social media!!!!!!!
God doesn’t need you to walk for Him. God needs you to walk with Him.
God doesn’t want you to fight others. God wants you to love and serve others.
We need to be in the world, not of it. Love the world, don’t fight it.
See, we turn on the radio, but we don’t get to decide what bands are signed. We turn on the TV, but we don’t get to decide which shows are on. We enjoy Thanksgiving with loved ones but we don’t get to decide which stores are open. We like to read, we don’t get to decide what gets published and what doesn’t. We don’t get to make the laws. We pay our taxes but don’t get to decide how much we’re taxed. All of those decisions are made way upstream by a select few people sitting high up in culture.
And more recently, we can’t control much during Covid-19 except wash our hands continually.
And more seriously, we don’t decide which police officers are hired, approved and trained.
If we really want to change culture, it’s not going to be during big events with Christians in a big room chanting, We love Jesus, yes we do. I’m not against the marching or the big events, but we’ve got to realize that there are cultural gatekeepers who shift culture and education and laws and influence others.
And the church yelling downstream at the people they think are wearing the black hats (while they view themselves as wearing the white hat) isn’t going to change anything for God.
If we declare war downstream, we don’t get to move upstream.
We’re not going to compromise on God’s law and truth, but we’re also not going to judge, hate or gossip (how many people in here slander a politician over them compared to how much they pray for them?).
We can’t hate and gossip and judge. Instead we must love others, serve others, have integrity, be generous, pray for God to put holy people in those cultural gatekeeper chairs.
In Genesis, Joseph has been a blessing to people and faithful to God and now God has put him upstream. Joseph decides the law, he decides all things food and property rights and taxation and education and he affects the lives and the betterment of millions of people.
With Joseph ruling, how many God-fearing people are in Egypt?
One. Just Joseph.
If he had shown up and declared war and fought for everything and slandered non-Christians, he’d never be upstream. He shows up to Potiphar’s house and asks, How can I be a blessing to you? And Potiphar puts him in charge. He’s put in jail and he says, How can I be a blessing to this jail? And he’s put in charge. They give him, a prisoner, the keys to the prison. He’s brought in front of Pharaoh and he just wants to know how can he improve Pharaoh’s day, and he’s put in charge.
Not once does he fight, or complain, or lose his temper. As a result, God guides him upstream, because he doesn’t declare war on those who are downstream. If we’re shrewd and wise and always loving and always generous and always forgiving, who knows what God could do through us.
If we believe God has taken care of us, then we will take care of others.
When Jesus shows up on the scene, He says, I’m a servant. Be a servant. The apostle Paul says, I serve Christ. We need to be a servant to all. It’s not that we compromise, okay, you should know I love truth more than anyone, we don’t compromise, but instead of fighting and whining, we pray, we love, we’re generous. We show God has been good to us and that He loves everyone.
If you strongly desire to change the culture around you in a God-honoring way, serve and bless the people downstream from you (the marginalized) and pray for the people upstream (the cultural gatekeepers).
Thanks for reading. You are loved.