Culture, Community as Idol

Only, and I repeat only “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13.8 Also consider verse 14 “For here we have no permanent city, but we are looking for the one which is to come.”

You can fall into this state of making an idol of any culture or community at 16, 46 or 86 years of age -but after living awhile it’s either easier or more difficult to do. Why?

No culture, no group of people you may deeply appreciate and relate to died on the cross for you, rose again, calls you by name, even promises you a new name (Rev. 3.12, etc.) eternally. My guess is any chosen culture or community that is not literally in heaven before God Himself is transient, temporal, subject to change. We are often extremely uncomfortable with change, but nobody will enter the literal kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven unchanged. That change must begin now- and that’s why Jesus said none of us can serve two masters. One King. One. Nahhh… we so often choose an idol or two or three -rather than respond in faith, love and obedience to the Only One we cannot create a false idol out of.

So what prompted this particular blog was inspired by a very solid, meaningful article: “In Search of Lost Tribes” https://www.plough.com/en/topics/culture/music/in-search-of-lost-tribes

The author nailed it. And for me, Jesus nailed it literally- one cannot find in another human nor even another group of them neither in the culturally-loved and shared stuff anything of absolute agape and permanence that only God can give, that only Who God Himself IS.

I completely related to the writer’s experiences on another level, from both shared and other cultures in my lifetime. For me a shortlist includes:

-Childhood in quiet sparsely populated rural areas, outside of small towns in Wisconsin farm country

-Suburban Milwaukee living, mostly school or out w. friends running around the neighborhood or small semi-rural areas nearby

-Hanging out, then living in inner-city Milwaukee poor, Black neighborhood

-(A) Living and serving in Christian community/ministry 24×7 travelling through Midwest, South, then a Florida university town

-(B) Continuing travel world-wide as a performing musician and since early Spring 1973 Chicago’s inner city Uptown neighborhood is my home

-Doing countless shows in rock and/or blues and/or biker’s and church-related gigs, jails and prisons world-wide

As I’ve often mentioned, I’m truly as comfortable in inner cities as I am in thick woods or alongside streams, lakes and fields.

Too many folks with too little experience or at some points as harsh as it may sound, actual idolatry of their chosen culture is part of what rips marriages, families, sometimes even nations apart. Such worship of one’s creature preferences of custom in our day has so stained a genuine Christ-focused-and-following GOOD NEWS of relationship to Him that I wonder if others recognize it as such?

What I do know is what I began this post with: if we will not yield up our “golden calves”, though it feels like anything but grace, God will see to it they are sacrificed according to our need. In the end it’s what HE chooses, HIS kingdom and HIS plan that succeeds when all our cultural icons change and ultimately evaporate.

The old song offers wisdom plenty sadly disregard: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus / Look full in His wonderful face / And the things of earth will grow strangely dim / In the light of His glory and grace.”

I suggest not only we but also our neighbors would greatly benefit from us learning to hold our cultural and community preferences lightly because in the end, they too will end when God ends this world as we now know it.

Perhaps things worth considering?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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