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Ray Rooney, Jr.: Rethinking My Role in the Culture War
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 7:56 AM

Much is changing in the world and culture.  Government leaders scoff at American exceptionalism.  Marriage is being redefined against the will of the people by activist judges.  Sexuality has left the realm of decency and privacy and now parades unabashedly in public and before our children led by the homosexual activists.  School teachers and administrators threaten and humiliate children who would dare speak the name of Jesus or bring a Bible to class.  Hollywood runs anyone who proclaims their Christian faith out of town while the military pays for operations to make men become women.  Professional football players are sent to get “reeducated” if they publicly say that a televised kiss between two men is “horrible.”  The “American Dream” of success based on opportunity and hard work has been replaced by the American Entitlement where millions of people think they are owed something for doing nothing.  All the while the Church seems unsure what its role is supposed to be in this monumental shift of values and mores.

So I’ve done some soul searching and decided to look back on what made me become a Christian and think, believe, and live the way I do.  Is it still valid?  With the seismic cultural shift(s) going on, should I rethink my faith (like so many others seem to be doing) or keep fighting the current heading upstream?

My Christian life has always been founded on the Word of God.  Three particular passages in the Bible grabbed my attention early on and provided a foundation while setting a tone for my life in Christ.  Maybe they have lost their relevance in my soul.  If they have there seems to be no reason to continue the fight and risk persecution.  So here we go…

I wasn’t born into a Christian family so my upbringing was very hedonistic.  As a young man in my late teens I began to consider things that weren’t being covered by the feel good generation I was a part of.  Somehow, it seemed obvious to me that I should begin to investigate the realm of faith and religion.  So I began reading the New Testament.  Never will I forget the day I read these words in Matthew 12:30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  If that isn’t a call to take sides I don’t know what is.  There is no fence to sit on or any middle ground.  Choose Christ or you have chosen against Him.  Serve Him or oppose Him.  I made my choice for Him and I’ve never regretted it.  Rereading that verse reminds me just how important it is to take a stand for Him in the midst of this culture war.  There can be no gathering of the harvest with Christ if I decide to lay low in my church.  As a matter of fact laying low in the culture war is actually scattering the harvest which would put me right back in the untenable place of being “against” Jesus.  Choosing Jesus Christ means choosing the work that goes along with that choice.  There is no choosing Christ while remaining neutral in the culture war.

It wasn’t long after choosing to be “with” Christ that I read another passage in the New Testament that guided me in a specific direction.  It was Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”  Aligning myself with Jesus Christ was not to be or remain a strictly personal and private matter.  It wasn’t long after becoming a Christian that I began to feel the pressure to keep my new found faith to myself.  Apparently, my change of heart, mind, and direction was a bit unseemly to the crowd I was with.  And I began to succumb to their lectures and admonitions that faith and religion are private matters best kept within the confines of the church property.  Until I read Romans 1:16.  I will not be either ashamed or intimidated into remaining silent about my faith in Christ.  While I will not tell anyone else how they should be living their life neither will I sit passively by being told what I should believe and accept as normative.  No, I won’t beat people over the head with the Bible but I won’t hide it from their view either.  Since the gospel is the power of God to salvation I will not be afraid or ashamed to tell what it is that it saves people from.  Therein lies the rub.  There is no good news to share without there being some bad news to be saved from.  Not ashamed.

It won’t take long as you shamelessly stand for the gospel of Christ to find out there is a price to pay for doing so.  It was during my time of trial that I read Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  This passage taught me that the troubles that come from being called and deployed as a soldier for Christ are both manageable and malleable.  God will take the pain and hardship associated with faithfulness to Him and reform and shape it into something good.  Something to be proud of.  But take note.  That promise is made only to the called whose love for God outweighs their urge to settle down and fit in to culture and society.  I am reminded of something James said in the New Testament: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). 

You see, there is not supposed to be a desire to get along with the ways of society and the world.  I am not supposed to get in the canoe and float wherever the current takes me.  I am a Christian and every fiber of my being is supposed to be resisting the urge to sit down, shut up, and get on board with a culture that is celebrating rebellion against God.  Those things that formed and shaped me into a Christian will not permit me to turn a blind eye and simply shrug and walk quietly away.  I chose a side.  I unreservedly and unashamedly committed myself to declare Him and His will for humanity.  I accepted the promise that He would take the unsavory things in life that came as a result of being faithful and make them good.  So I cannot and will not go-along-to-get-along with the seismic shift going on in our culture.  I will continue to be committed to the choice I made, demonstrating it without shame, and trust God to make something good out of the insults and vitriol that come my way because of it. 

I think its time for all Christians to ask themselves why they became followers of Christ and whether or not what was true then remains true now.  We were all told it would be this way.   Revival starts not when a good sermon is preached but when the chords to a key memory are struck.  “Oh yeah, that’s why I got on board in the first place!”  And that’s why I will walk in faithful obedience today.  Even and especially if it is at odds with today’s culture.

 

Ray Rooney, Jr. 

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