Numbers 24.13 records the prophet saying, If Balak would give me his palace full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD to do either good or evil of my own will, but whatever the LORD tells me I must speak’?
While the prophet in this story turns bad his attitude at this point in the story is one current Christians desperately need. Culture is a reflection of the attitudes and desires of the people. Culture reflects the thinking, the doing and the wanting of the people within its boundaries. What kind of people is our current culture reflecting?
More than 150 years ago a Frenchman came to America to determine what made this country so great so fast. Alexis de Tocqueville observed, ‘I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.’
Might it be that the shift in culture we see today from one of full churches and an overarching Christian virtue to one of narcissism and decadence is the result of our choosing houses full of silver and gold rather than obedience to the commandments of the Lord? Could it be our willingness to be silent in prayer at school, in the government hallways and in the business boardroom has resulted in fewer adherents to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
The work of the Church, which is the necessity of every Christian, is to make disciples of all people by going to them with His message, leading them into repentance signified by baptism then teaching them obedience to every command He has given to us. Jesus said this tension between gold and God would be an issue for people when He observed our impossibility at loving Him and loving money simultaneously.
To truly follow Jesus is to offer Him our current and future titles and treasures in order to engage fully the work of reconciling people to Him through loving others with acts of service and proclamation of His work through our testimony of His activity in our lives.