Culture is all around us. We are exposed to each of our cultures on a daily basis; the messages and ideas are thrown at us constantly, and we don’t even pick up on all of it. It’s so ingrained in each of us that these messages don’t even phase us anymore, things become normal. In our normalcy we become numb. I bring up this idea of culture because I study culture at my university. I am a communication studies major (not communications, you’d lose a hand if you said that to any of the professors), and in this field I am able to look at how messages are communicated to each other, and culture comes from this communication. A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication. Culture influences us, culture changes the way we think and culture has us accept things that they are normal, but we are weird. When you become weird, you can never go back to being normal.
All of these influencers around us want to lead us away from the point. They want to keep us distracted by entertainment and worldly desires that can never truly satisfy. As believers, we all have a purpose; our purpose is to build the kingdom and bring others out of darkness and into freedom by the relationship with Christ. What happens is that the enemy doesn’t want us to succeed. Our enemy actively works against us, having us become distracted by entertainment and causes us to make small compromises that will add up and destroy us. The truth is, we can stand in the midst of this chaos, we have a savior that defeated death, and because of that, we are able to counter the culture we are in. You see culture is influenced by what we communicate, and if we begin to shift the communication, we can shift the culture. We can alter the world around us by our actions and influence.
Stand in the chaos.
In the Old Testament we see a prophet named Ezekiel. Now I love looking at some of these guys in the bible that aren’t as well known, but they each had an encounter with God and have a message to speak. About a month ago I was reading over the first chapter in Ezekiel, and was confused, but in my confusion, God spoke. God’s word is alive, making it unlike any other book, and he always has a message to share. That’s a side tangent. In the chapter (which I won’t quote here because it’s a lot), Ezekiel has his inaugural vision, a vision of four beings in the midst of chaos. Each of the beings have four faces on their heads, and all around them a storm of wind and fire are all around them. At each of their feet were wheels with hundreds of eyes. Lost yet? Weirded out? Good, I mean, you are a weirdo now. I read this and was quite confused, then God worked at my heart. Ezekiel saw this as a vision of God’s glory, and the reason for this, is because the beings represent the church, the weird people in the midst of a chaotic world who are only able to stand because of Christ in their lives.
The battle is inside us.
The beings each had four faces, this is key. Ezekiel says that the beings kept moving forward, in a straight path. The faces were in different directions, but they followed the eyes in front. Each of us have pulls in our lives. We have jobs that want to pull us to the left. We have people that want to pull us to the right. And we have mistakes that want to make us go back. Each of these parts in our lives can easily change our direction, but this will only bring us into the pain of the world. When we focus on moving forward, we run towards the father and we enter into his purpose. You see, all of these pulls are in each of us, but we have to fight to keep going forward. The pulls in our lives are very real, and sometimes they can hurt. We face so much and it can make it difficult to go forward. This past week I was struggling, I felt like I was failing, and I let the faces pull me back. I felt myself trying to make it through by my own strength, and the chaos was starting to pull me under. We all have to fight. Daily. We must daily die to our own strength and rely fully on Christ. I didn’t defeat death. I’m not a perfect person without sin. I screw up daily, but my God didn’t. My god defeated death on a cross, my God was and is without sin, so I will trust him. We all have a battle that rages inside of us, but we have the cheat code. We have the God who has already won. When we pursue him, we can win the battle.
The eyes to be influenced.
For a good bit I had no clue what the wheels on the ground with hundreds of eyes represented. Then God pulled the heart string. The eyes are the people all around us. Each day we have the ability to influence so many. This ties into the culture aspect. When you live differently, people notice, and that notice can become an opportunity. Have sad would it be if we just wasted the opportunity to speak life into someone? Don’t miss out! Don’t just fit in and be normal, you’re weird now. You have a purpose and ability to speak life and be counter to the culture. The eyes are on you and you have the chance to change their lives forever.
About a month ago I read this chapter in Ezekiel. God used it to speak to me, to teach me that I need to understand the pulls in culture and realize that with Christ I can stand through all things. Today I needed to share the same truth with you. We have a chance every day to move towards Christ and live counter to the culture around us. When we counter the culture, we shift the culture. We change the rules and create a new reality by communicating the love of Christ, and when we do, the world will never be the same. Don’t fit in, don’t compromise, and remember who your creator is.
You were made for more, so live a counter culture lifestyle.