The Culture Culture
The Bible teaches, from Genesis 3 onward, the antithesis. Antithesis is a rather fancy theological term that simply affirms that the people of God live their lives in the context of the battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. While we are called to love our enemies, we are called to recognize them as enemies. Though the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, we are at war. We are called to be set apart, distinct, separate from the world around us. One could even translate ekklesia, which is usually translated “church” in our English Bibles this way, “the called-out ones.” We seem to have forgotten the antithesis in our day, strategizing that if we will become more like the world we might make a difference, that the way to be salt and light is to mask our savor and cover our light. We are of the light, and they of the dark. We are of our Father in heaven, they children of the Father of lies. We are, by the grace of God, the friends of God. They are, by nature, His enemies.
There is, however, sundry points of contact. However mangled and distorted, those outside the kingdom still bear the image of God. Conversely, however, there is this point of contact- we are still sinners. Though we have been regenerated we yet struggle with sin. Though we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are still tempted by the spirit of the age. This point of contact, however, the ways in which we sin, is not designed to serve as a bridge to the lost world. It is instead designed to be direction away from itself. That we sin, usually in the same ways that they sin tells us how we can better recognize our sins, that we might flee those sins.
The culture then, serves as a “culture,” a way to discern what ails us. If we want to know the kinds of sins we are tempted toward, we ought to be watching the sins of the world around us. Chances are we are tempted in the same direction. This, sadly, is something too many that are wisely conscious of the antithesis miss. We are so intent on the differences between us and them that we fail to see us in them. They murder their babies, while we avoid ours. They steal from their god by cheating on their taxes. We rob our God by failing to tithe. We rant and we rail against the world’s sin x, and miss the fact that sin x comes in camel size at our favorite buffet. Is the world shallow and greedy? I probably am too. Is the world hell-bent on self? I probably am too. Is the world deaf, dumb and blind? I probably am too.
The difference, the antithesis, between us and the world isn’t that they have sin issues while we do not. The difference is two-fold. First, our sins have already been covered. Jesus died for them, and the Father is not angry with us. Second, we are committed to finding them out, rather than hiding them. Isn’t it gracious of God then to give us the glaring shamelessness of the world to make our own sins more known to us? May He in turn give us eyes to see.