Do We Actually Believe God Is Bigger Than Our Secular Culture?

Contributing Writer
Do We Actually Believe God Is Bigger Than Our Secular Culture?

Many Christians face a dilemma wondering if and how they should engage with secular culture. Some may even fear the truths of our faith cannot stand against the onslaught of ideas that are floating around in our society. In some cases, it seems the easy thing to do is to avoid the culture all together, but that is not what God desires us to do. We are called to be in the world but not of the world, which means we cannot ignore the culture. We must be willing to engage with it. The key question is how do we do this? 

What Do We Mean When We Say “Secular Culture”?

From a Christian perspective, secular culture includes ideas, traditions, and ways of living that don't come from a scriptural foundation. In short, people live their lives without being guided by biblical principles. They essentially live and make decisions based on their own reasoning. 

When people embrace secular culture as a lifestyle, they will often live contrary to God’s word. Sometimes, they may even question the validity of faith and usually reject the ideas of Christianity, including the concept that people are born in sin and that salvation and eternal life can only be attained through Jesus Christ.

Should Christians Hide from Secular Culture, or Fear Its Influence?

While it is possible to be influenced by the secular culture, as Christians, we should not hide from it – we should engage it. Please notice I said engage, not embrace. I believe a mistake some pastors and even Christians are making is thinking we need to bring secular culture into the church to attract those who are in the world. That is not what we should do and that is not what God expects us to do. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul lays out his strategy for engaging those who don’t know Christ. Here is how he sums it up in verse 22-23.

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Notice Paul met people where they were, which is engagement. However, even while engaging with them, he continued to obey the law of Christ. He did not indulge in their sinful activities to win them to Christ. He remained obedient to God and did not violate his commands.

My pastor recently told me the story of a man who said he was going to the strip club to witness to the dancers at the club. Not only is this ludicrous, but it should be obvious that God will never lead you to indulge in sin to win someone who is lost or trapped in sin. We engage to bring people out, not so we can be sucked in.

How Do You Protect Yourself from Secular Influence?

While we should not hide from the secular culture, we should know how to guard ourselves from its influence. All secular culture is influenced by Satan since he is the god of this world. This means many of the appeals of the culture speak to your fleshly impulses. Because of this, you must be careful of what you consume and be aware of your weaknesses, because some aspects of the culture may be more than you can handle. 

You must always filter your understanding of how the world and culture think through what God has said in his word. God’s word is the standard, and ideas that don’t align with that standard must be rejected. However, this leads to another important question. Are you spending time in God’s word to know what his standards are? 

When I was about 19, I went to the gym and started working out. I got on the bench press and started doing sets with as much weight as I could lift, which back then was about 180 pounds. I felt proud of myself until the next day. My arms were tired and my muscles were sore. When I went back to the gym two days later, I couldn’t even move the bar at 180 pounds. I had to drop all the way back to 80 pounds because I had not built up my endurance or strength to lift the heavier weights.

To engage the secular culture, you need to make sure you have the strength and the endurance to do that. This means you must know the word, spend time in prayer, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you are not doing these things, then you are not strong enough to deal with secular culture. Even with your best intentions, you risk being overcome by the surrounding culture.

How Do We Effectively Engage the Secular Culture?

If we are going to engage secular culture, how do we do it? Here are some things to remember that can set a foundation for you. 

Live as salt and light.

In Matthew 5, Jesus calls you the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt preserves the way and light points the way. As salt and light, your role is to influence secular culture without being influenced by it. This means you should live in a way that upholds God’s standards (salt) and then point people to Christ, who is the only hope for salvation (light).

Doing this will take strength, wisdom, and courage because we live in a world that rejects God’s standard. That’s why you must be strong in your faith, so you don’t fall victim to the whims of the culture.

Remember it’s the sick who need a doctor.

“On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Mark 2:17).

When Jesus walked the earth, he made a habit of eating with sinners and tax collectors. By doing this, he was engaging the culture. They did not influence him to sin, he was influencing them towards righteousness. He knew their sinful condition and that he was the only one who could save them from it. That’s why we engage the culture, because they need Jesus and we are the ones to share him with them.  

You are an ambassador and God is making his appeal through you.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

One reason God saved you is so you can reach others. God is making his salvation appeal through you because you are his representative. Guess who he is making that appeal to? Those who don’t know him. Where do you find those people? They are all around you and most likely they are part of the secular culture. If you never interact with them, then how will they ever hear about the good news of Jesus and salvation? This will not always feel comfortable, but this is what God has called us to do.

Be ready to give an answer.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Peter gives us the ultimate reason we don’t have to fear the culture. That is because we have the answer. We should never be afraid of the questions people ask, or the challenges they may bring to what we believe. In fact, we should welcome the questions and accept the challenges. 

When people question or challenge your faith it should not shipwreck your faith. You should see it as an opportunity to strengthen what you believe. Our faith in Christ stands on a firm foundation which has withstood the test of time. It is backed by science, creation, and the greatest event in the history of all mankind – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His resurrection has been proven throughout history and is one of the major pillars of everything we believe. This is part of the reason for your hope.

As you think about your faith and the culture, you can be confident in what you believe. I am not saying you are going to have all the answers, but you should never be afraid of the questions or the challenges. Sometimes people may ask questions to trip you up, but many times they are searching for real answers. In either case, be prepared to give an answer. And if you don’t know it on the spot, don’t be afraid to admit it and then get back to them. Like I said, our faith is based on a sure foundation, and we should welcome the opportunity to give an answer to those who ask us the reason for our hope in Jesus.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt

Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit