This post is also available as a podcast: https://anchor.fm/teague-mckamey/episodes/Is-Western-Culture-Dying-e1jjpt8
My daughter attends high school online through Wilson Hill Academy. It has been a wonderful fit for her, and we love the Christ-centered education they offer. Given it is virtual education, Wilson Hill intentionally fosters community amongst families. One way they do this is through an in-person gathering called LINK. This year, LINK was held in Estes Park, Colorado, at YMCA of the Rockies.
Each morning at LINK starts with a devotional time. Wilson Hill teacher Greg Lawrence gave one of the messages, and I LOVED it! Greg started with a statement he said some might find controversial: We are living in the death throes of western culture. (I have touched on this in another post: https://thevoiceofone.org/2013/01/07/a-dragon-in-lambs-clothing/). Given that western culture has been largely Judeo-Christian, its erosion can cause Christians to feel fear and wonder what God is doing.
From here, Greg went to Daniel chapter two where Daniel interprets a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar. In the dream, there is a statue with a head of gold, chest of silver, torso of bronze, and legs and feet made of iron mixed with clay. Daniel explains these are the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Greg said the succession of these kingdoms shows God moving history forward through death and resurrection. Each kingdom rises, falls/dies, and a new kingdom is raised in its place. Greg also related God moving history through death and resurrection to the old and new covenants. In the time of Jesus and the apostles, the old covenant died, and the new covenant was raised in its place.
Greg ended with the theme verse for LINK: “Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). In context, Paul is talking about death and resurrection as it relates to Christ and those in Him. Our work is not in vain because we believe in the God of death and resurrection. If western culture is dying, it is because God is bringing it into death. Our hope is not that western culture lives on forever. Our hope is in resurrection.
Readers of The Voice of One know that Christ’s death and resurrection is the primary lens through which I see scripture. But I hadn’t considered Nebuchadnezzar’s dream through this lens. Needless to say, I found Greg’s message exciting.
Something I have observed is that believers often put their faith in God doing what they expect. In any situation, there are outcomes we would prefer, and we ”trust God” to move things toward our desired outcomes. But God doesn’t move according to our desires. He moves according to death and resurrection. When God moves according to death and resurrection instead of according to our expectations, we are confused and unsettled. Some even lose faith completely. The antidote is for the church to know her God and put aside the idol of our preferred outcomes. (For more on this read here: https://thevoiceofone.org/2018/03/09/four-wills-of-the-cross-and-other-news/).
Our view of God also affects how we act. Many Christians respond to the erosion of western culture with fear and going to battle against anyone who doesn’t share our worldview. We have decided God’s will is to preserve western culture, and that He backs our culture war. But what if God is working according to death and resurrection? We then find ourselves fighting what God is doing. That is not a fight we can win.
I realize some could find this controversial, even blasphemous. If I’m right, how do we carry ourselves? That is ultimately between each person and the Lord. For myself, I have resolved not to fight the cultural shift happening but to remain faithful to Jesus, whatever that means. As I do that, I hope God can use me to lead others out of the culture.
Come what may, I hope to posture myself like Daniel’s friends: “If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us…. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods….” (Dan. 3:16-20).