My great-uncle Joe, known at Mercer University as Papa Joe, first introduced me to this idea that Christians are called to live in this world but not be of it. I had Joe for two classes at Mercer, and he was always challenging my way of thinking and pushing me to become a better and more thoughtful citizen and Christian. At the time, however, I wasn't really a Christian. I was still trying to logically work out what I believed.
Now that I am a Christian, I've given the notion that Christians should not conform to our culture a lot of thought. The oddest thing made me think about this issue. I was having my highlights touched up, and my hairdresser and I discussed the Asian "spas" which are basically places of prostitution and can be found throughout Macon. Lamar, an advertising company, sells billboard space to these spas. And I wondered if a Christian owned the company.
Since that conversation I have been thinking about the ways that I am "of" our culture. As I grow in my relationship with God, I see more and more ways that I want to change. For example, two summers ago I loved the show Nip/Tuck. I watched it every night on F/X. Once I started working on my thought life and obedience to God in the context of sexual morality, I found that that show made it very difficult to not think about sex.
When I examined the way my family was celebrating Christmas, I realized that we had bought into this secular/consumeristic version of Christmas. We didn't even talk about God or Jesus's birth and instead focused on buying gifts for everyone. I'm happy to say that we've cut back a lot on the gift giving, and more of my family attended the Christmas Eve service with me this year. I also felt better about the gifts I gave as I gave my niece a "date" with me to the pottery place and a really cool illustrated children's Bible.
While I know that growing as a Christian is a process, it's amazing to me how many non-Godly ways of thinking I still have. Just in the way I initially respond to different situations is almost always a worldly response based on non-Biblical principles and beliefs. It's also amazing to me how, statistically, Christians look very much the same as non-Christians. For example, the percentages of Christians who have premarital sex or get divorces doesn't really vary much from the percentages of non-Christians who do the same.
I have so many more thoughts about this, but I'm at work! I'm curious to read others' thoughts and ideas about these issues as they've been weighing on my mind a lot lately.