I discovered early in my ministry that you cannot live at peace with a culture that is at odds with God. Men and women who want to experience a significant life must be willing to confront their culture with God's truth.
In some ways, humans have vastly improved our world. Walking is good. But if you need to rush to the hospital, driving is better. Writing a letter is good. But if you need a quick response, e-mail is better. And who would trade laser surgery for an operation without anesthesia?
These are all great improvements. But in many ways, our culture has deteriorated. A century and a half ago, the Bible was the foundation for our law and society. Today, our country is wallowing in moral relativism.
What is our place in this unraveling society? Ephesians 2:10 says, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Since God has placed us in our decaying culture to cultivate goodness, we must influence our culture.
Perhaps you are a stay-at-home parent who thinks, 'I could never influence the culture.' But God has given you influence over your children. In the Old Testament, Hannah faithfully taught her son Samuel the fear of the Lord, and Samuel became a great prophet. Did Hannah influence her culture? You bet she did.
Students, your culture is the school where God has placed you. When I was in junior high, a teacher challenged me to pray for and share the gospel with five of my classmates. By the end of the year, every one of them had accepted Christ. You may hold little sway over the larger culture of the United States, but you can impact your neighborhood, school, office, church, and home. When you faithfully represent Christ where you are, you will make an impact, and God may expand your influence.
How Not to Influence Your Culture
So why are American Christians so un-influential today? There are two main reasons:
Some Christians respond to our ungodly culture by retreating into their homes and churches, hoping to shelter themselves and their families from spiritual pollution. They pride themselves on their isolation, thinking they are remaining pure. And they do not want to impose their Christian values on the culture, so they remain in their holy huddles. But these Christians have made a false dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. They tend to believe the Church is good, but the government is bad. They ignore the fact that God established both good institutions (Acts 2; Romans 13:1-7).
Society will be shaped by somebody's values. The only question is, whose?
Other Christians choose to identify with the culture. You can't tell them apart from unbelievers. These Christians believe that sin is not a big deal. In fact, they no longer use the word sin to describe behaviors that are outside of God's standards.
Unlike Elijah, these Christians remain silent instead of proclaiming God's truth about moral issues, fearful of being labeled a "religious fanatic," or losing a promotion or popularity. And if they have a friend who is willing to stand up for truth, then they distance themselves from that person, not wanting to experience any of the negative fallout their friend experiences.
An Ordinary Giant:
In John 17:14-17, Jesus asked God to keep us from isolation and identification with the world so that we might influence the world. Admittedly, it can be quite a challenge to be in the culture but not of the culture. But the Old Testament prophet Elijah reminds us that one believer empowered by the Word of God and the Spirit of God can truly change the world.
When Elijah burst onto the scene, Israel was full of supposed God-followers who were also worshipping the false god, Baal. Another 7,000 believers hid away in caves, refusing to get involved (1 Kings 19:18). Against such a backdrop, this ordinary man became a spiritual giant.
Elijah's efforts to influence his culture were neither convenient nor comfortable. They never are—not when you are trying to stand for God in a sinful and corrupt generation. But even if you have to stand alone, I urge you to stand without bending, because you do not know whom you are influencing.
Do you want to follow God and have an extraordinary life, as Elijah did? Then determine to influence your culture for Christ.
Excerpted from Dr. Robert Jeffress' book, Choosing The Extraordinary Life, published by Baker books, © 2018
Dr. Dobson interviews Dr. Robert Jeffress on the daily broadcast.
On this broadcast, Dr. Dobson and Dr. Jeffress look at the spread of immorality in society and explain why Christ followers can no longer sit on the sidelines.
Then on Day 2, Dr. Dobson continues discussing a Christian's moral responsibility in politics, with Pastor Robert Jeffress. Pastor Jeffress defends his stance for choosing moral candidates for public office and shares the sharp criticism he has received over the years.
Learn More about the Guest
Dr. Robert Jeffress is the senior pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, as well as, a Fox News contributor and a member of the executive committee of the White House Faith Initiative. He is the author of over 20 books including his newest Choosing the Extraordinary Life. Dr. Jeffress' daily radio program, Pathway to Victory, is heard on more than 930 stations nationwide, and his weekly television program is seen on thousands of cable systems and stations in the US and in nearly 200 countries around the world.