We are living as Christians in a time when it seems that we have a hard time with relationships, or at least healthy, non-hostile relationships. We live in a culture today with technology that is supposed to help us with communicating better. Yet we are more divided then anytime that I have seen in my lifetime. Our culture today is to shoot first listen later. My hate is more righteous than your hate. We are afraid and suspicious of each other. We think the worst instead of the best of each other. I know that there are evil people in this world and we need to stand for what is right and good. But we must be careful that we don’t label everyone who believes differently than we do as evil. This culture is not something that is created by politicians somewhere but it is the culture we create in our homes, churches, and local communities. We as followers of Jesus have an opportunity to change that culture right in our homes, churches, and local communities. Most people in America today believe that Christians are the cause of this evil culture. They believe we are irrelevant and even hostile to our society. Maybe they have a point. We have not always been the loving people we should be. It is time that we really follow Jesus. It is time to live the culture that Jesus taught. He changed the culture in his time. Think about all the different beliefs systems, sects, and races in Jesus’ day.
- Romans – elite, governing class
- Jews – politically downtrodden class
- Samaritans – racially segregated class
How did they feel about each other? Was there racial prejudice in Jesus day?
- Economical classes:
- Publicans and Tax Collectors – Financial Elite and Rich
- Slaves – Financially downtrodden
- Panhandlers and beggars – Very Poor class, the homeless
How much time did these classes notice each other?
- Sadducees – The political Left, Liberal party
- Pharisees – The political Right, Conservative party
- Zealots – The freedom fighters, terrorists, and violent protesters
How do you think these got along?
During the time of Jesus, if you read history, it was a violent, turbulent time. The Romans put down uprisings of Zealots by killing and arresting thousands. Jews hated Romans, Romans hated Jews, Jews hated Samaritans, and Samaritans hated Jews. They segregated themselves from each other. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. But Jesus lived a different culture than the one he was surrounded by. Jesus said of himself in Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering the sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1,2)
What happened when Jesus and his followers lived to change their culture? Now you won’t believe this, but it is recorded in the Bible that Zealots, Sadducees, Pharisees, Beggars, Slaves, Slave owners, Tax Collectors, Romans, Jews, and Samaritans became followers of Jesus and changed their culture.
The book of Acts records, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
Does Christianity work today? I believe through the power of the Holy Spirit and living the culture that Jesus did, Christianity, can and is, relevant to our time. The world is crying out to see that the followers of Jesus can make a difference and bring people together.
We are all broken people who have a hard time building healthy relationships. But I believe with the help of the Holy Spirit we can learn to build healthy relationships at home, at church, and in our community. Over the next few months Gary Parks who has helped train many people in his churches to learn skills to build relationships that Jesus taught us to have with each other. Those of you, who would like to change our homes, church, and community to the culture of Jesus, please join us. You will hear more as we go along. But you will want to be here this Sabbath August 26th. Gary will be sharing and inviting us to take this journey together.
Jesus said, “They will know you are my followers if you love one another.”
Let’s pray that God will use us again to change our culture!