Knowing When It’s Me or It’s the Culture

I haven’t always been the best judge of what is right and what is wrong, or, more relevant for these times, what is just and what is extreme. It goes all the way back to high school and having parents who were strict in what I was allowed to do and not do. I often complained to my friends about my lack of freedom. Being Baptist and having strict parents was often compared to being a juvenile delinquent with handcuffs on.

Years later, and in the reflection stage of having raised three of our own kids, I realize that my parents had a very good grasp of the wheel that charted our family’s vessels through a mixture of smooth and rough waters. Wisdom is often defined as stupidity by those who tend to drift into dumb waters.

And now we live in the midst of tumultuous times filled with difficult decisions. People are being asked to answer higher-level questions that are criticized by one side and praised by another. Questions such as “Do I get vaccinated?”, and “Do I believe everything that I’m being told I need to do to protect myself and others from COVID-19?” And the questions persist into other areas, such as “How open should our borders be?”, “In a social dispute should all the blame be laid on one side, or are should both parties involved have a share in the problem?”, “Should there be gun control and what is too much government regulation?”, “Should the tax burden be placed more on our shoulders now or placed on the backs of the next several generations?”, “Is college tuition debt something that should be eased or not?”

The questions could fill up a Jeopardy screen. The answers range from conservative perspectives to liberal leans.

The quandary for me and others who are on a journey with Jesus is discerning what is a culture cry and what is a Christ-cry? After all, the cry of the public was to crucify Jesus. He was too radical, too “out there” for His time. The establishment saw Him as a threat, even though He was voicing the thoughts of God.

For us, when we sense that inner-uneasiness, how can we tell if the squirming we’re experiencing is the whispering of the Holy Spirit or a ripple effect of our life experiences? Is it a holy uneasiness or a shaking of the tree that contains all the ways we were raised?

When it’s the Holy Spirit speaking to us, how do we speak in non-judgmental, loving ways that convey our convictions? How do we reflect the Christ we follow and are rooted to without sounding like an arrogant, pious church-goer? How do we speak with other followers of Christ who differ in their opinion from ours? Are we able to see each other as spiritual siblings who simply disagree without attacking one another’s salvation status?

After all, even the disciples of Jesus didn’t always agree. They got into arguments and discussions about who amongst them was the greatest, who was supposed to provide the food for the crowd of people gathered to hear Jesus, who was at fault…the afflicted or their sinful parents? Jesus had to change a few of their opinions in the time He mentored them.

Maybe some of our opinions…some of my perspectives also need to be changed…while others are rightfully anchored to the Rock.

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