Modern America is much like Ancient Athens. Yeah, I know that sounds impossible and no, we don’t speak Greek or wear funny robes, but the way we speak is still, after thousands of years, much the same. I’d like to tell you a story about Socrates, the Epicureans and Stoics, and the Apostle Paul. We will start first with Socrates and bear with me til the end, I think this will help us understand our current struggles with faith and culture and know what to do about them. Today we are looking at why Acts 17 informs our modern day evangelism.
The reason I started Church Public was to connect church and culture. I want YOU to be equipped to follow Jesus and engage in the public square. For too long we have shied away from the confrontation that inevitably comes when we stand up for our faith. Instead of running from the culture, let’s work towards knowing more about culture and how the normal believer can live in the culture, but not be of the culture.
It seems that the culture is increasingly spiritual, but not in a Biblical way.
Today we are looking at the rise in witchcraft, tarot and spells and what God thinks of all of that. (Spoiler: God doesn’t love it.)
Many surveys and smarter people than me have made the observation that we are now in a generation of people who are, by and large, spiritual but not religious. Yet, the practice of spirituality could be at an all time high. Our culture is religious. We always will be because humans ARE religious. We may try, but we cannot escape this.
And we are in the culturally strange place right now where we are leaving the modern scientific age that has led to all sorts of life saving and prolonging and bettering advancements, we are leaving that age and moving to the age of cult-like adherence to spiritual leaders. Some claim to be doctors and scientists; most are some kind of ‘expert’. And many people in America just blindly follow. Or, if they have questions, they are removed from social media.This is leading to people seemingly going back in time to paganist rituals like witchcraft and devil worship and spell casting.
It should go without saying, but for the sake of being thorough, God does not approve of witchcraft and the occult. Here are just a couple references for you.
Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:31. Actually much of Leviticus 19-20 deals with this, you can go read that if you want some light reading for today!
Of course, Paul deals with this as well. The acts of the flesh are obvious, sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
The definition of ‘Family’ continues to drift into strange places.
So today we look at where the world wants to take the family, and how God actually created us.
Our role, as followers of Jesus, is to follow. You’ve heard pop stars say ‘I was born this way,’ and I agree. We are born a certain way, but this world wants to hijack that and turn you into something else.
God wants you to reflect his image – male and female – husband and wife. This is Holiness. This is Faithfulness. This is following Jesus, even if the world tells you something different.
Remember, the world is NOT for you, the world is AGAINST you.
But, GOD is FOR you and wants you to prosper. He has a plan for you and a future. May God bless you and keep you, as you Keep the FAITH!
Peter is great to study because he is likable and normal and very human. He is not a saint. He tries hard but constantly fails Jesus. Peter grew up as a good Jew who was ready for a fight.He knew that the Roman occupation was not the way God wanted his people to live and he expected a Messiah to come and fight to free his people.
But Peter also kept getting it wrong. He was impulsive, argumentative, and combative.
And the good news for us: he changed. Once he began following Jesus, he was never the same. And you can change too!
Once upon a time there was a group of people who all spoke the same language and they really wanted to accomplish a great thing together so they said, ‘hey let’s build a tower up to the heavens so we can be like God.’
Now the culture is once again trying to divide us with language, but this time it is not for our good. Check out the rest on the podcast at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and Google.
At Church Public we create compelling content to equip you to follow Jesus and engage in the public square.
Finally the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of California churches. The churches in California are now allowed to Worship INDOORS. Last Friday, the Supreme Court issued an order telling the state of California that it cannot bar indoor church services because of the pandemic.
Judge John Roberts wrote that, ‘the maximum number of adherents (church attendees) who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero – [this determination] appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciate or consideration of the interests at stake.’
Judge Amy Coney Barrett also weighed in on the singing ban across churches, ‘if a chorister can sing in a Hollywood studio but not in her church, California’s regulations cannot be viewed as neutral.’
Freedom to express religion has long been a hallmark of America and it has been strained this season. Church closures and capacity caps in California, New York and other places across America have made the choice to worship less about freedom and more about whether or not you go against the government and that is not a good thing.
For a couple hundred years in America, the freedom to worship in whatever way you want, or don’t want, has be the protected baseline. With the advent of this novel virus, that norm has been challenged leaving many church goers and pastors scrambling to find a place between defying the government and following God.
The very thing the founders were working to instill in this country was the removal from the government forcing a particular religion or way to worship. This latest political and social issue of ‘lockdowns’ has strained the relationship between what individuals are free to practice and what is against the ‘guidelines.’
We can only hope that one day soon we can once again use our own common sense to decide if an action, any action, is worth the risk or the reward. Sadly, going to church, has been put into this category of ‘non-essential’ services. The religious, spiritual, cultural, social and even societal implications of removing church from culture are dire and we are seeing it play out in real time across America.
So, this court victory helps, but there is more road for us to travel.
One of the last acts of the previous administration was the creation of the 1776 Commission, an historic look back at the founding of America including the ideals that the courageous men included in the Declaration and the Constitution. You can read the 1776 Commission here. And I highly recommend you do.
For those that like history and for those that like to know ‘why’ America was founded and what has changed since then, this is actually a really great review. From the beginning of America, the founders wanted a place of religious freedom and self government. They wanted a place where we acknowledge that ALL men and women are created equal and thus treated equal. This is from God not from government. The Declaration and the following Constitution are unlike any other document or governing system in history because they are based on this fact and not based on blood lines or caste system or ruling class.
Sadly, the incoming administration removed this history on the very first day. Why? I can’t say for sure, but it makes me sad that history and truth are so terrifying to some. I always believe that MORE truth covers over lies, not less truth. If you are in the business of removing the words and thoughts that you don’t like, then you are in a dangerous place of possibly missing the real truth. Instead, we should be interested in keeping a platform for more truth in the knowledge that, in time, the truth will rise to the top and the lies will be found out.
I have saved a copy of this document so that I can read it and share it. Not because I don’t have other history books with the information in them, but because this is a somewhat brief compilation of both history and current culture. It is important to live in both worlds. We cannot and must not live only in the past but we also cannot and must not forget where we have come from. There are those that believe the past was much worse than the present and we are much better now. For the believer in Christ we know that the past had its struggles because it was full of broken people, but we are also broken people and we can learn from the mistakes and celebrate the victories in an ever present struggle to be better today than we were yesterday. That should be both our personal goal and the goal of the society we exist in and influence.
So remember, the founders were not perfect, and neither are you. We can learn from them and grow in our own character and from there we can go out into the world and make a difference if we don’t give up.