Toy makers, music artists, cereal companies, retail establishments, medical institutions, cartoon networks, sitcom and movie distributors: These are those Christian culture, lately, rallies against, petitions reforms from, and boycotts — understandably so. After all, we live here too in the US of A…
These are toys not made for us but for the world; these are the songs of the notorious Pied Piper, leading little ones astray; these are giants of retail and corporation who bow to the social currency of whatever will keep them in business, keep them popular, or keep to their own worldly codes; these are institutions, networks, and distributors who are not trying to reach a solely Christian audience — if they imagine they are luring Christians at all (and, just as likely, couldn’t care less). It is highly unlikely, after all, that a Christian crafted the concept of such a sacrilege of perversion as the Amazon show Upload (2020) in which immortality is reduced to a trifling fantasy of the overly-sensual.
What is it we expected from the worldly? Decency? Morals? A Christ-centered view of the world? Respect for the Creator’s design? Holiness? Partiality to a Christian’s Holy Spirit-given new-creation sensitivities?
Or is it that we want our whole worldly cake and a clean bill of spiritual health simultaneously? Do we desire to eat at the world’s table while demanding that they whitewash it for us? Take off their shoes? Treat us as the spiritually-astute and physically-restrained patrons we claim to be?
Is it so much to ask for a Christian to turn off the T.V. altogether? To realize that the world’s tasty treats were never necessity, wholesome, or an appropriate guardian for our souls, even at their best when we thought so?
When did we forget, children, that the wicked will continue to do wickedly? When did we forget that, in contrast, we are often called to refuse or neglect Babylon’s kingly spread and eat our humble vegetables? All of the petitions for revision from the world will not save one soul from hell — though it may make him twice a hell-child in disingenuous behavior modifications (Matt. 23:15).
These petitions and boycotts will fail. It is clear enough that we are entering a new age in American history. Angels and demons war overhead, as we begrudge and protest the loss of a binge-worthy show, a favorite toy-maker, a compromised artist or chicken sandwich…
Can we admit yet, dear Church, that trying to forge common ground through ‘relating’ with the world was a terrible, no-good, very bad, idea?
When you try to relate with worldly culture, you unwittingly reinforce it. This is why no culturally-relatable ‘gospel’ of Christ can long remain in Christ: a double-minded Jekyll and Hyde reside within the fabric of the being who claims to be a ‘new creation’ in Christ, yet still identifies as much or more with their own ‘human nature’. You cannot serve two masters: you will love one and hate the other (Matt. 6:24).
If you get down on one knee to court the world, you will be telling yourself that you are one with them in no time — that you are just like the world. No set-apart holiness. No real transformative difference. Just another sinner —
But one who believes in God! (One might protest.)
Ah, yes. As do the demons (James 2:19). (At least they have sense enough to tremble in their belief…)
The world, then, is more than happy to entertain you in this notion. They will then tell you (that they are just like you and) to get down on all fours and act like the animal you really are…
Church, you are not called to identify with or as the world. You are saved and set-apart by your identity in Christ. Your new-creation mindset now relates more with your Betrothed’s desires and heart than with the world’s futile passions —
But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.Acts 16:19
You can no longer make the world a sizable profit, Church. The world has well-nurtured and matured other means…
The American Dream
What are our political ideologies if not little idols?
But I like the way Bruce Riley Ashford sums these things up in his book, Letters To An American Christian (2018):
“…Progressive liberalism, which bears little resemblance to liberalism in its initial and non ideological form, functions as a false system of salvation. It craves absolute independence from social norms, identifies social norms and authorities as the ‘root evil’ of society, and places its trust in ideologically liberal political parties that promise to maximize free choice.”
“…Pure ideological ‘conservatism’ tends to deify a certain era in national life… elevates cultural heritage to a level of ultimacy reserved for God alone, and for that reason it has a twisting and distorting effect socially and culturally.”
“Nationalism becomes idolatrous when people begin to worship the nation, in effect viewing it as the savior that will protect them from being corrupted or influenced by people who are different from them.”
“…Socialism makes a god out of material equality and considers economic inequality the greatest evil. It then points to ‘wealth redistribution by taxation’ or ‘communal ownership’ as the saviors who can rescue society from its ills… Although socialism increased ‘equality’ in those nations, it was the type of equality that ships experience when they all sink…”
Some would argue that they are idols at their worst; I would contend that they are idols even at their best.
“We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”1 Samuel 8:20
No Christian concerned with following worldly kings, nor the ideologies of kings today, can rightly give the people of Israel a hard time for this past error.
So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.
And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
— 1 Samuel 10:8-18
A Peculiar People
When you see the Church is God’s Embassy and yourself as His ambassador to the world, then it becomes easier to realize the truer state-of-affairs contending against you in this foreign land.
All of earth is foreign soil to the saint of God. Have you not felt it? — The ache, the groan of creation, the Man of Sorrows bearing His cross to do His Father’s will, to prepare a place for you with Him (Is. 53:3)? To seek and save the lost? To reconcile the prodigal to His heart?
To be Creator-King alone of our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.
How often we exchange the King of Kings for some mortal hallucination of something we thought we wanted. I dare say, if we still imagine our king to be ‘America First’ or made in the image of some 1950s nostalgic episode OR if we think He is impressed with our newfound and fluid individuality, ‘relevance’ to culture, or voice, then we have not yet humbled ourselves in the sight of the Lord:
If My people will humble themselves and…
Get better intellectual talking points?
Rage against the machine?
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”2 Chron. 7:14
He lists 4 things there that His people are to do… Have we done those?
Dear saints, America did not get here overnight. We now have a very long-standing history of pride, ranting, chanting, and seeking lots of things other (power, fame, status — need I go on?) than His face, alongside our wicked ways (abortion ad nauseam, adultery on app, hate, race-baiting, jealousy, covetousness, false accusation, porn, sex-trafficking, every kind of abuse, singing idols, cartoon idols, cosplay idols, false religions, lying, all kinds of sexual perversion, deceit, violence — shall I go on?). Though many of us would never dream of doing such things in daylight, many who claim to identify as a ‘new creation’ yet consume such worldly feasts with their eyes or hearts.
Is God deaf or dumb? Is He blind?
And I said to them, ‘Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.’Ezekiel 20:7
America will not be sainted in the Hall of Faith, dear one…
But I pray that you will hold a strong standing there.
Eyes up. Did you forget your true identity, Church? Do not be afraid. It will one day be noted again that God’s people aren’t from around here…
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.1 Peter 2:9