Can believers make a positive impact on culture without being consumed by it? How can we avoid the dangers and find the balance?
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:7
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you. Titus 1:5
While it is true that in Jeremiah’s day the Jews went into exile under the disciplinary action of God upon Judah, life for those exiles was not put on hold as if it were meaningless or purposeless. They would not be coming back to Jerusalem soon. The elderly among them would die before the seventy year captivity ended. False prophets told them to expect a quick return to their native land. Jeremiah, by God’s revelation, commanded them to settle down, plant gardens, buy houses, have children, and seek the welfare of their land of captivity. In other words, God commanded them to do the regular activities of normal life and to be good citizens as much as possible. Indeed, Daniel exemplified this attitude and was a great asset to Babylon in both his personal life and public service. We’ll look at this when we get to the book of Daniel.
Paul wrote his letter to Titus whom he had left on Crete to organize the church under godly leadership. The Cretan people had a bad reputation in general, making it crucial that Titus adhere to the apostolic standards for elders so that the church would not be tarnished by scandal. The church in Crete had to have men above reproach to be their elders. They, like the obedient exiles in Babylon, would stand against the culture of their day and make a difference.
Think about it
There is an ongoing debate among Bible-believing Christians about the role of the Church in society. Should we seek to transform it or flee from it? Both positions have a basis in the Scriptures. It is hard to be completely on either side of this debate. God calls us to exercise wisdom that the Church not be consumed with changing society and lose the gospel. Nor may we be so separate from the world that our gospel witness is lost.