Christians love a good moan. Our favourite topic is the world around us. We love to harp on about how dreadful it is. How standards are in decline. How public life is going down the pan. How it used to be better. We loving talking the world down just as much as the world loves talking the church down.
Of course when we're slagging off the rest of humanity we only pick the areas that we're pretty confident that we've got right and they're getting wrong. Where would be the fun in moaning if it wasn't accompanied by a certain self-righteousness.
The problem with our expectation that the world will fall in line with biblical morality is that the Bible teaches quite the opposite. Jesus himself said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15: 18-19)
We should expect the world that is in rebellion against God to hate His Son and to hate those who follow Him. If you're not a Christian reading this, I'm not trying to offend you, but simply pointing out that by definition you have chosen to set yourself against the person of Jesus.
Time and time again the Bible makes it clear that Christians will be different from the people around them and generally not admired for it. Peter writes to early Christians, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (1 Peter 4:12-13)
My problem is that I still expect people to see me as a bit deluded, yes. Out of date, probably. Stupid, almost certainly. But in general a nice, kind, harmless, stupid person. But increasingly that's not the case. Because those who seek to live by the standards of the Bible are standing out more and more.
The shame is that it has taken the world changing it's standards to make this happen.
The real problem is not that the world is decreasingly aping the church. It is the church is guilty of aping the world. Because it is all the ways that we fail to live for Christ, but love to fit in with those around us, that are really damaging the spiritual health of our nation.
The way that Christians are addicted to comfort. The way that we worship money (it controls our emotions more than anything else). The way that we've turned home ownership into a biblical command, whereas Jesus said, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) The way that we've turned sacrifice into foregoing one foreign holiday a year, so that we can give a little bit more to church. The way that if you did a fly on the wall documentary of many of our lives, you'd struggle to spot the difference between us and our non-Christian friends (apart from the way that we publicly adhere to a different sexual morality and attend church services and meetings). The way that so many Bible believing Christians are effectively living for the Western middle class dream.
If I was living a radically different life for Christ in every area of life, then it wouldn't take the changing sexual ethics of the world around me, to make me stand out from the world.
I need to stop whinging about the world. I need to be less worried about the direction that our culture is going in. And more worried about the direction of my life. Confess my half-heartedness. Pray that I treasure Jesus so much that my greatest passion might be that I live wholeheartedly for him.
Because it's Christians like that that our world desperately needs.
Or as Jesus put it...
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16)