Culture shifts over time, be it world, national, state, city, or even church culture. The influences active in each group help to shape their future cultures. By “culture,” I mean acceptable codes of conduct, dress, the celebration of special occasions, and responses to crises, among other things. While some things can change within church culture, many things must not. God has given a pattern for Christian life, and when Christians follow that pattern, the church’s culture remains spiritually healthy and beneficial to all.
We encourage righteous choices, praise those who make them, and correct those stumbling into sin (1 Thess. 5:11ff). We worship God according to His pattern for us: On the first day of the week, we come together to take the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:17ff), to sing praises to God (Eph. 5:19), to study and hear His Word proclaimed (2 Tim. 4:2), to pray together (1 Tim. 2:8), and to provide for others by giving as God has given to us (1 Cor. 16:2). We allow God to shape and maintain the church’s culture according to His will by continuing this way.
The book of Judges offers a poignant reminder that shirking godliness today carries long-lasting cultural consequences. In the first two chapters of Judges, the Israelites failed to drive out the people of Canaan completely. Their cowardly, faithless approach to God’s commands brought trouble to the generations who came after them. Had that initial generation lived long enough, they would have been appalled at the cultural shift that occurred in their descendants (e.g., Judges 2:10ff).
Christians must not make the same mistakes as the Israelites. Instead, we must live in bold obedience to God, allowing Him to shape and maintain our culture until the final day.