Various colleagues in ministry have suggested that Christians should not be engaged in culture wars. They insist that culture wars are harming the mission of the church. However, I’ve often noticed that even as they denounce the culture wars, they are compelled to #resist. If they are not culture warriors, what are they resisting? In fact, offering an alternative culture is the mission of the church.
Paul has called us to “stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11-12 NLT). Human society is corrupted by demonic powers which create and empower evil and oppressive systems. These evil systems find their expression in human culture. When Jesus, or the apostles, warn us about the dangers of the world – this present age – they are speaking to human culture in rebellion against the justice and righteousness of God.
Jesus began his ministry by resisting the evil systems of this present age. He cried out, “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15 NLT). In Christ, the Kingdom of God has invaded this present world. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit violently rushed upon the disciples of Jesus and empowered them to go into all the world. So, in the name of Jesus and empowered by the Spirit the Church is called to resist, to struggle against, the powers of darkness.
We are called to resist a culture that opresses the poor, the orphaned, the widow, and the stranger in the land.
We are called to resist a culture of racism and sexism that denies basic human dignity and supports the superiority of one race, or gender, over another.
We are called to resist an idolatrous religious culture in which the gospel of Jesus Christ is subservient to the politics of the nation.
We are called to resist a culture of sexual immorality that tolerates pornography and serial divorce, that embraces fornication, adultery, and homosexuality.
We are called to resist a culture of death in which abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are normalized, and war and violence is glorified.
Even as we resist these sinful cultures we must always love those who are oppressed and imprisoned by the “mighty powers in this dark world.” We must never “pay back evil with evil” or “let evil conquer you” by succumbing to fear, anger, and violence. Instead, we “conquer evil by doing good” (Romans 12:17, 21 NLT).
We don’t wage violent war – we wage abundant grace!
As we engage in this struggle we are to suit up in the armor of God – truth, righteousness, the peace of the Gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. We should not be angry warriors; but loving, joyful, peaceful, gentle, patient, good, and temperant in our resistance. If Jesus is our model of spiritual warfare, then we must understand that the only way to victory is self sacrificial love.