In countries dominated by western culture, there continues to be admiration for compassion, and respect for honesty, integrity, and humility. But there is no doubt that recent cultural trends in western countries no longer give general support to Christian faith and to many other Christian values. This affects how Christians and churches are viewed, and also how many Christians themselves think and act.
Scepticism about Christianity (on both scientific and ethical grounds) has become increasingly fashionable, and Christians in public life are increasingly subject to suspicion. Contemporary post-modernist thinking assumes that truth is subjective and uncertain, and that truth is whatever you choose it to be. Christian truth claims can thus be seen as over-confident, or arrogant.
Individualism and consumerism emphasise the centrality of self and the primacy of individual choice. The priority of personal happiness and pleasure is rarely questioned. Calls to holiness or righteousness are mocked. Christian beliefs about gender, sex, or marriage (views which were shared by most societies until very recently) are increasingly reproached as unloving, harmful, and unable to be tolerated. Churches can variously be regarded as outmoded, empty, irrelevant, narrow-minded, or dangerous.
In the context of our changing, less Christian-friendly context, Christians should not be intimidated, or become weakened in faith. We must remain faithful to Christ and the word. We must also think carefully about what we believe, and how we live and express that. We need…
- to beware of becoming conformed to this world (Rom 12:2)
- to be deeper into the scriptures (Ps 119:11)
- to be a people of constant prayer (Eph 6:18)
- to reflect Christ in all we do and say (Matt 5:13-16)
- to be loving, not a clanging gong (1 Cor 13:1)
- to be humble (James 4:6)
- to be thoughtful, gentle, and respectful in how we speak about our faith (1 Pet 3:15)
- to be good citizens (Rom 13:1), above reproach (1 Pet 3:16-17, 4:15)
- to be peace-makers (Matt 5:19)
- to live peacefully with everyone so far as it depends on us (Rom 12:18)
- to overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21)
- to recognise all Christians as part of the same body of Christ (Eph 4:3-6)
to receive the wisdom that comes from above (James 3:17), which is ‘pure, …peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere’.