Light gives direction,
provides protection,
exercises correction,
and facilitates
detection. When
living correctly,
Christians do all of
this in the culture.
God the Father with God the Son.
The much-misrepresented phrase
encouraging unity, “that they may be
one,” was never intended to promote
compromise of theology or conduct.
God the Father and God the Son
are united in perfect doctrinal and
behavioral harmony; this is the only
way we are instructed to practice
unity. Accommodating our culture is
not Christ’s intent for believers. God
is absolutely holy and so must we seek
to be if we are to be properly unified
with God.
The final preposition used to describe
our relationship with our culture is
given in John 17:13. “These things I
speak in the world, that they might
have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”
Believers are not consigned to a life
of dread and despair by the preceding
three descriptions. Rather, Jesus
declares that the result of these three
provides joy. Thus we see joy WITHIN
the world. Our conflict with culture
should not rob us of our joy.
to Our Culture
Jesus then provides a series
of guidelines leading to
our commissioned task for
accomplishing His mission
of engaging believers as His
ambassadors to this world. First,
Jesus identifies our arsenal for
confronting this world’s culture.
John 17:14a states, “I have given them
thy word.” Any address of culture
must be scripturally based. He gave
us the Word.
Secondly, we should expect the
culture to reject the Word of God.
John 17:14b confirms, “And the world
hath hated them.” With the denial
and abandonment of the Bible, our
culture has increasingly assaulted
any adherence or obligation to follow
the teaching of Scripture. Frankly,
the church and culture exist in two
different realms. “The world hath
hated them because they are not of
the world” (John 17:14, cf. John 15:19).
It should be noted, thirdly, that Jesus
did not intend to take us out of this
world, but rather that we should be
protected from the evil one as noted
in John 17:15, “I pray not that thou
shouldest take them out of the world
but that thou shouldest keep them
from the evil.” Clearly, we are to exist
in this culture but we are not to yield
to the corruption of this culture. A
difference should be obvious because
we are not of this world. “They are not
of this world, even as I am not of this
world” (John 17:16).
Fourthly, Jesus gives the needed
defense and inoculation for believers
in our culture. “Sanctify them
through thy truth; thy Word is truth”
(John 17:17). With a declaration of
absolutism (truth) further solidified
by its identity and authority with
the Word of God, Jesus prays for a
“setting apart” of the believers from
the ways of the world.
Finally, the command for the
Christian and culture is introduced.
“As the Father has sent me into the
world, even so have I also sent them
into the world” (John 17:18). With
an amazing comparison to the Lord
Jesus Himself, we are commissioned
to invade our darkened culture with
the radiance of sanctified behavior
grounded upon the changeless,
absolute truth of the Word of God.
in Our Culture
Jesus uses powerful illustrations
to guide believers as we face our
culture. One of the clearest examples
is the imagery of light. He boldly
announces, “Ye are the light of
the world” (Matt. 5:14). He further
declares, “Let your light so shine
before men, that they may see your
good works, and glorify your Father,
which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Light
gives direction, provides protection,
exercises correction, and facilitates
detection. When living correctly,
Christians do all of this in the
culture. Our very presence should
provide these qualities of light in
stark contrast to the darkness and
despair of our world. Such shining
ignites a need and desire for the
Source of our
light, God
Himself. We
should remind
people of God
by our presence.
The relationship
between the
believer and
culture presents
a myriad of
topics. The extremes of response
are too often apparent. But Jesus
left us with the infallible compass
of the Holy Scriptures and with the
guaranteed indwelling of the Holy
Spirit to lead us. May God help us to
tackle the challenge of relating to and
responding to our culture without
conforming to it (Romans 12:2).
P±²³´µµ²±: Dr. Daniel Anderson, Th.D.
C²¶±µ´ W²±K: Dec.5, 2016–Feb.3, 2017
On-Campus Module: January 2-6, 2017