As a parent, I notice more. I watch as my daughters grow and learn from the world around them. Sometimes it’s a good thing. And other times, I cringe at the bad habits they’re picking up. I don’t remember it being this way when I was growing up. Then again… I’m not sure we realize how much culture dictates our point of view. It’s not until we witness others being affected by the cultural norms that we see it. If I’m being honest, it’s not the big things that bother me. I can teach my girls right from wrong. I can show them what the Bible says when it comes to the bigger issues. It’s the more subtle things that concern me… the things we don’t notice… at least not at first.
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As I sat down to write this blog post, I realized something. Culture dictates just about every aspect of our lives if we let it. Our purpose in life, our theology, our perception of family and friendship, and even the way we view our faith in general… it’s all greatly influenced by our culture. To dive into this topic would take more than one blog post. So here we begin… the first post in this brand new series.
How culture dictates your purpose in life…
I closely monitor what my children are allowed to watch and listen to, but even the most positive of messages can be distorted. Follow your heart. Pursue what makes you happy. Love is what matters most in life. These are all very positive and uplifting messages. But do they line up with what the Bible teaches about life and purpose?
Follow your heart…
We are called to pursue the dreams God has placed in our hearts and to trust Him. The key here is that we follow what GOD has put on our hearts. The Bible actually tells us that our hearts are deceitful and can’t be trusted. (Jeremiah 17:9) But a heart that’s been transformed by God is different. In fact, we are told that as Believers we have had a “heart transplant.” God has removed our heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. He has even written His law on our hearts. This new heart, filled with the Holy Spirit, is the heart we are called to follow.
Pursue what makes you happy…
We are told to rejoice in the Lord always and to find our joy in Him. Pursuing our own happiness apart from Him, however, becomes a dangerous and often selfish game. Honestly, we have seen what happens to our world when humanity begins to pursue their own happiness without thinking of the consequences. Yes, we know as human beings that we shouldn’t do something that hurts other people. But we still end up hurting each other anyway. Take the person who divorces his wife because he’s no longer “happy” in his marriage. While he’s doing what makes himself happy, he’s potentially hurting a lot of people in the process.
Love is what matters most in life…
This is probably one of the strongest messages my children are learning from today’s media. Love is indeed the most important thing because God is love. But if you leave out that last part… you end up with a very distorted view of love. Our love and service is supposed to draw people to Christ, but the world wants us to love and leave God out of it. (Is it even possible to love apart from Christ? That may be a question for another day!)
So what now?
On the surface, these cultural messages seem innocent enough. But what makes them dangerous is what they leave out. Most of the television shows and movies produced in our American culture teach these lessons apart from Christ… and that’s not good.
- While the culture says to follow your own dreams, desires, and passions… God tells us to follow the dreams He has place in our hearts and to walk in His plan for our lives.
- While the culture tells us to do what makes us happy and what feels right for us… God tells us to find true joy in Him and to do what is right in His eyes.
- And while the culture tells us to love everyone by being kind and affirming their life choices… God tells us to sacrificially love all people (even our enemies) in a way that draws their hearts towards Him.
More to come…
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.