As we look at our nation today, we see that we’re going in the wrong direction. We might be tempted to say, “Well, that’s it! There’s nothing we can do.”
But I think there are things we can do. I also think there are things we should not do. For example, we shouldn’t try to escape the culture altogether, and we shouldn’t engage in isolation. (That’s virtually impossible.) God has not called us to isolate; he has called us to infiltrate. He has called us to permeate and saturate our culture with the truth of the Gospel, to go into all the world and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
That balance can seem difficult at times, because the Bible says, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you” (1 John 2:15 NLT), and “don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
At the same, time Jesus prayed to the Father, “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. … Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world” (John 17:15, 18 NLT).
The only way to change the world is to go into the world with the Gospel. We don’t want this culture to change us, but we do want to change the culture. So instead of trying to withdraw, we should try to be a good influence.
This is a battle we’re engaged in, and either we’re winning or losing. Either we’re advancing or retreating. And as followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we’re behind enemy lines.
A while back I was watching a series about World War II. In one scene, a lieutenant said to a paratrooper, “Panzer Division is about to cut the road south. It looks like you guys are going to be surrounded.”
He replied, “We’re paratroopers, lieutenant. We’re supposed to be surrounded.”
As Christians, we’re in hostile territory. We’re surrounded by people who don’t share our views. Not everyone will respond in the affirmative to the message that we give. Some will respond in a positive way, and some will not.
The Bible says that God “uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14–15 NLT).
When you’re a follow of Jesus, you can be a wonderful fragrance. A Christian entering the culture can change so many things. But a fragrance to some can be a stench to others.
Living a godly life will reach some people, and it will offend others. But my job as a Christian is to both live and share the Gospel.
If you’re a follower of Christ, I would encourage you to engage people in evangelistic conversations. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the air. This is a moment for us to step into the conversation and talk about the hope we’ve found in Jesus Christ.
But let me also add that if you’re a Christian who’s living a hypocritical life, if you’re contradicting what the Bible says by the way that you live, then please do us all a favor and don’t talk about Jesus. In fact, you might just focus on repenting of your sin and getting right with God before you talk to others about your faith.
On the other hand, if you’re seeking to live a godly life (not a perfect life, because we all fall short), then look for opportunities to talk about Jesus. I think our culture today is looking for authenticity. A.W. Tozer, a preacher from days gone by, made this statement: “The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God – not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice.”
It’s Christians who stop the spread of evil in our culture today. It’s Christians who stand up for the rights of the unborn, who speak out against racism and try to bring about reconciliation. Christians are out there doing good works and helping people in need, regardless of whether they believe as we believe.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless” (Matthew 5:13 NLT).
As Christians, we must be salt, and one of the things salt does is stimulate thirst. If you’re really living for Jesus as you ought to, then you will stimulate in others a desire to know God.
When someone is walking with God, it makes you want to know God as well. That is what won me over to Christ. On my high school campus, I noticed the Christians, the followers of Jesus. But my friends warned me, “Greg, the Jesus Freaks are everywhere here. Be careful.”
“Oh yeah,” I said, “the last thing that’s ever going to happen is that Greg Laurie would become a Jesus Freak!”
However, what interested me about those Christians was their joy and happiness. They had something that I didn’t have. And it was their walk with God that attracted me to them.
Jesus also said, “You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden” (verse 14 NLT). Light is obvious. For instance, have you ever been in a dark theater when someone pulled out his or her phone? Light makes a profound difference in a dark place. Light exposes the darkness.
Are you being salt and light in your world, in your circle of influence? We need to go into our culture and be salt and light. We need to pray, and we also need to preach the Gospel. Not only does America need to hear the gospel, but America needs to see the gospel as well.