David’s article about saving a life begins with the story of Hanukkah, in which a Syrian ruler would have swallowed up the people of Israel by forcing them to adopt pagan beliefs and lifestyles. This was a culture war that became a physical battle due to the non-compliance of God’s people.
This makes me think of today’s culture wars. I wonder if most Christians see how important non-compliance to much of today’s culture is. In fact, it can be a matter of spiritual survival. Do most Christians know that we remain a minority in our society, and that we aren’t meant to blend in? Belonging to God should make us conspicuously different from those who don’t yet know Him. That means knowing when to say “no” to any number of attitudes, actions and activities that people who don’t know God find perfectly normal and acceptable.
I’m not advocating that we go on the attack against the prevailing culture of our society. Non-compliance does not have to be self-righteous, sanctimonious, aggressive or confrontational. It can be winsome and humble and loving. Look at Daniel and his friends, who had been carried off into a foreign culture and treated well, perhaps in hopes that they would assimilate and ultimately popularize Babylonian culture among the Jewish people. Daniel and his friends refused to bow down to idols. They risked everything when they refused to comply… and they rose to prominence. In some cases that will happen, even in our culture—but we can’t count on it.
The very best and kindest refusal to “bow down” to our prevailing culture can still be met with hostility, and in many cases will be met with hostility, because our reason for not “going along to get along” is our conviction that God would not like it if we were to go along with the crowd. By implication, without our ever having to say anything, “the crowd” understands that our belief is that God is not happy with their direction.
It is up to each believer to understand Scriptural principles and prayerfully consider how to uphold them in what we think, say and do when others pressure us to conform to the culture of this world. But we should be able to help and encourage one another in the process.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
So I ask myself, what does non-conformity to the prevailing culture mean to me? How can I set myself up to succeed in those areas where I may be tempted to conform to a culture that departs from God’s will for me as His child? Maybe you’ll also find these and other questions helpful to ask yourself and discuss with your believing family and friends. Like the Macabees, we don’t need to outnumber those who might pressure us to conform. We simply need to be faithful to the One who can win any culture war with just one Word.