Keeping pace with culture or keeping God’s commands?

Two months ago my wife and I were visiting my son Rusty and his family in Port Charlotte, Florida.  One day Rusty was test-driving a foreign-made car and was frustrated because he couldn’t figure out how to change the speedometer reading from kilometers to miles.

That evening he suggested we take his kids and all go out for ice cream.  “We’ll need to take two cars,” he insisted, so you and mom just follow us.”

I followed him down a divided highway at what seemed to be a safe speed and was surprised when a policeman whizzed up behind us with his lights flashing.  I couldn’t imagine he was after me because it didn’t feel like I was speeding.  And besides, I was going the exact same speed as the guy in front of me.  However, the policeman pulled both Rusty and me over to the side of the road.

The officer came up to my window and said, “Sir, you were going 58 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone.  But wait right here, I’m going to deal with the car in front of you and I’ll be right back.”

When he went to my son’s car, “Rusty quivered, “Officer, I know this is going to sound like a line, but this is the first day I’ve driven this car and I can’t figure out how to change it from kilometers to miles so I had no idea how fast I was going.  The guy behind me is my dad…and he doesn’t know what he’s doing either!”

Fortunately the policeman was full of grace and let Rusty off with a warning.  Somehow he sensed he was telling the truth.  He was even smiling a little when he came back to me and declared, “Your son explained his situation with the speedometer and I understand you’re from out of town so I’m going to let you both go.  But try to keep it to 45, please.”

One of the problems Christians have in today’s world is that we just go along with the moral pace of those around us.  By comparison we feel safe.  After all, “Everyone is doing it,” so it must be okay.  Bob Vernon, former Assistant Police Chief of Los Angeles said today’s church has a ten degree philosophy of morality.  He says we’re satisfied to stay just ten degrees above the world and imagine we’re living holy lives when in reality we’re flagrantly violating God’s moral law and spiraling down into a moral abyss right behind the world.

When a Youth Minister was confronted because a number of pornographic websites were discovered in his computer history, he rationalized, “It’s just soft-core porn.  It’s not the vulgar stuff that so many are into these days.” In his mind he was innocent because he was ten degrees above the world around him.  The Bible says, “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves they are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).

The challenge for today’s Christian is to allow God’s Word to remain the standard for holiness and not just passively “go with the flow.”  The Bible reminds us repeatedly that, “The Word of the Lord endures forever.”  God’s commandments don’t change even when the culture around us is speeding toward destruction.

The Apostle Paul urged the Christians residing in Rome, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will”.  (Romans 12:2)

That doesn’t mean that we have to dress like puritans or be odd for God.  But it does mean we’re willing to be distinctive from the world.  Instead of seeing how close we can come to emulating our culture, we see how close we can come to imitating the character of God.

Jesus said His followers should be the light of the world and Paul said we should try to make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.  Can you imagine what a positive influence Christians would be if our speech was pure, our dress was modest, our work habits were ethical, our marriages were loving, our children were respectful, our attitudes were joyful and our decisions were unselfish almost all the time?

Philippians 2: 15 urges us to, “…become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

Light always eliminates darkness; it doesn’t blend in with it.

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