Culture is a dirty bowl in which we swim, blind to the world outside the foggy walls.
I found myself recently asking some questions about how I bought into a culture that I did not seemingly intend to and how easy it is for us to get wrapped up in the world that we inhabit and forget that there is a much broader, much bigger Kingdom and a much bigger world at play. Yes, we live here on planet Earth. Yes, we have various demands and responsibilities that we’re fulfilling. But my dear brother or sister, there is an invisible world beyond the doors of the small kingdoms that we are building that is far, far greater and more far reaching in its implications.
And to be so swallowed up in the natural, immediate demands and urgency of life here on the planet and not immerse ourselves in that world as well is really not wisdom.
Culture, I think in speaking of our world, I’m really speaking of culture. Culture really is. The way I’ve written it on the blog is that culture is like a dirty bowl in which we swim blind to the world outside the foggy walls. The picture of this hapless goldfish swimming round and round and round in increasingly murky waters with their little kind of clay Castle in the middle there supposing that they are the King. And I think sometimes we are so utterly immersed, so drowned in the culture around us and all of the messages that it’s throwing our way, that unless we are very intentional, unless we make a solid, clear decision to extract ourselves from its grip on a regular basis, we naturally become just a part of that culture, and it becomes a part of us when we are so immersed in a particular way of thinking and a particular way of framing and seeing the world, it becomes a reality.
But it is not necessarily reality. With the capital are now often the world that we think we inhabit is really forming us to conform us to its image. And the world that we think we inhabit is exactly that we think we inhabit the world and that the world is a certain way. But often it’s not really on a very kind of comical level. No one in their right mind would wear some of the clothes that we wear.
Look back if you’ve got a few years under your belt, look back at the hairstyles in the 80s, cheque out the shoulder pads, look at the 60s with the big flares or whatever. I mean, all of this was beautifully cultural, but completely impractical. And like no one in their right mind would wear some of the clothes that we wear until everyone is wearing them, and then they become something that not only do we find amusing, we actually desire, we become conformed to the way and the world around us, and some of the ideologies that at one time would have been just clearly seen for their absurdity and now embraced as common progressive wisdom, even though they’re just as dumb and nonsensical as they ever were.
The whole gender argument right now with like, 65 different genders or something crazy like that is just really points to the absurdity of the human mind and not only that, but how an entire society can be convinced that it is like wisdom and enlightenment that brings us to embrace just such absurd notions.
And it really is often that the forced of culture is the media. That’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate to see Christians in the creative and artistic world and really putting their words and their images and their stories and their songs and their pictures out where people can drink and eat of them. It’s so important that the Kingdom that we serve and the King that we serve is found out there in the marketplace, in the real world, bringing truth to the table. And by that and I guess I need to say this.
It’s not just telling Bible stories.
We don’t need to always be in the pulpit to be having an influence. It’s often who we are and the way we live that makes the biggest difference. The loudest gospel that’s ever preached is one with no words that drip, drip, drip from our screens and devices, just desensitises us and desensitises society to just write, living and eternal values. God and his Holy nature are just sidelined in favour of the latest trends now here, especially in the post modern west, and I had to question myself and think, Man, are we in postmodern or are we now post postmodern, maybe even post post?
We lose count of the boundaries of decency that we cross over.
But here in the post modern west that culture is so drowned in materialism in particular it’s really bowed, so obediently at the feet of the twin gods of accumulation and accomplishment. And both of those are really very hard taskmasters. They’re never satisfied however much we lay at their feet. Enough is never enough. Early mornings and late nights sacrifice, family and health on the altar in the name of accumulation.
Oh, great God of repute and prestige. Wouldst thou see fit to grant me an iphone 13 plus Promax with an extra shot and a side of fries immortal Godass bless thy servant with seven more hours in thy appointed day of busyness to work the last few breaths of my skinny backside off. I mean, really, we’re steeped in this kind of absurdity in this crazy culture, how easy it is to fail to appreciate the pervasive nature of culture and how hard to see beyond our own traditions. Our world is the world that’s our world, the way we see it, the way we’ve experienced it, the way it’s portrayed to us becomes the world in the same way as like the bowl of the goldfish is their Kingdom with glassy walls keeping them safely incarcerated, safely.
Esconced and culture sometimes is like that.
It wants to safely keep us within its boundaries. And if we step over those lines, you better believe you’re going to get some kickback. And that’s why Paul was compelled to write. Do not be conformed to this world. Romans Chapter Twelve fashioned after and adapted to its external superficial customs, but be transformed and changed by the entire renewal of your mind by its new ideals, its new attitude so that you may prove for yourselves what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in his site.
For you, God has a good, acceptable, indeed perfect will for you. And surprise, surprise. It lays outside the bounds of present day cultural norms.
His perfect way isn’t driven by market dynamics. The way of Christ is not herded by modern heroes of stage and screen. It’s not measured by money likes, follow sales, subscribers, or man made metres of any kind whatsoever. Awareness of our condition is not automatic. Just because we think we know our state doesn’t mean we actually do.
Deception is deception because it’s deceiving. If you know you’re deceived, you’re no longer deceived. And that’s why I think it takes intentionality to extract ourselves from the greedy grip of modernity and reclaim what the Bible calls the ancient paths. This is from Jeremiah six, verse 16. And I just love this.
It says this is what the Lord says. Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. The interesting and somewhat alarming thing is this wonderful offer of a good way and rest is answered in Jeremiah’s day by the people.
We will not walk in it. Are we saying the same thing? When instead of the ancient paths of peace, we choose the frantic search for significance when we forsake the abundant life of Christ to scramble for our peace of the world’s more is never enough pie. God’s ways are not heavy. His Commandments are not burdensome.
John the beloved said this so beautifully reminded us in one John chapter 5:3 and 4. This is love for God to obey His commands, and His commands are not burdensome for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
We’re called to a life of victory. We’re called to a life of loving obedience to the Commandments of God, which lead us to a place where we find rest for our souls. Let the world scrap it out for the crumbs under the table. Instead, let’s learn to sit with Christ and eat heartily from his table, just as a kind of appetiser. If I come, pull up a chair, sit down with your King.
I’ll offer you an appetiser right now from the Book of Isaiah just to get the feasting started in Isaiah 55, it says, Ho, everyone that thirsts come to the waters, and he that has no money. Come by and eat. Yes. Come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread and your Labour for that which satisfies not man?
That is a great question. That is a great question for today. Is it not hark and diligently unto me and eat that which is good. Let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come to me here and your soul will live and I will make an everlasting Covenant with you.
Even the shore mercies of David. Bon Appetit. Well, thanks for listening. Hopefully, it’s been an encouragement to you today. If you want to connect any further, you can do so through my web website at Davidleemartin.com.
Have a great day.