Change your mind, not your culture
September 15, 2017
One of the many mistaken notions of the modern church is that the goal of Christianity is to change the culture; that the culture should somehow be forced into conformity with Christianity. However, this is certainly not the message of the New Testament. Christians are never told to change the culture around them. Instead, we are told that the need for change is much closer to home, in the mind of the individual.
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The Message translation makes the point even more plain: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” In other words, don’t expect the culture to become conformed to Christianity. Instead, see to it that you, as an individual, do not conform to the culture.
When Paul writes, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” he is saying that the proper goal of Christianity is not external, cultural change, but internal, personal transformation. God does not work from the outside in, but from the inside out. God is not concerned with, nor does he deal with, the culture at large, but with each person within the culture on an individual basis.
The goal of this personal transformation, which comes about “by the renewing of your mind,” is a life that is reflective of the “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The will of God is something that each individual must discover for himself. It cannot be given to you by a pastor or acquired from a church doctrine. Each individual must be convinced for himself of the “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” for his own life (and needless to say, granting everyone else that same privilege).
The goal of Christianity is not to change the culture. However, as individuals within the culture experience change on an individual basis, the culture at large will reflect that change, as a by-product.