Our course of action should be not just to condemn our society for ‘going to hell in a handcart,’ but to take action in our own lives to make sure we are in tune with God’s purposes.
I took a class in editing last week. I expected it to be a bit dry, so I was pleased when the teacher was not only knowledgeable but also passionate about the subject. She stimulated animated discussion, even about grammar and the changes in English language usage. A lot has changed. Commas and semi-colons seem to be going the way of the dinosaurs and even standard sentence structure is changing. Some state that our language is not evolving but devolving. The hard and fast rules aren’t being taught in the schools anymore and there is much debate as to whether or not some of them still apply. “What’s a noun?” isn’t a question asked in grade five but in grade ten and higher. High school teachers groan over essays full of mistakes and university teachers don’t have it much better. As we discussed this situation, the teacher made an interesting comment. She said - “If enough people do it wrong for long enough, it seems right. Then the rules themselves are changed.”
One could argue that is not only the state of our language, but of our entire culture. What would have been considered unthinkable ten years ago is commonplace today. What would have caused an outcry five years ago barely rates a comment now. Changes in the standards of morality have swept along at a rate that has left many of us in shock. And it leaves us with a choice. Do we go with the flow or do we stand our ground? Do we adopt the standards of our culture, or do we continue to uphold what we believe is right?
The apostle Paul and those living in his time faced this same dilemma. Their society had been enveloped by a culture that brought huge changes in morality and spirituality, changes that quickly became the norm. Paul warned the people with these words: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is...” (Romans 12:2). Paul urged the people to seek God’s wisdom, to act according to the standards He provided, and to “cling to what is good.”(12:9)
Our course of action, then, should be not just to condemn our society for ‘going to hell in a handcart,’ but to take action in our own lives to make sure we are in tune with God’s purposes. In this way, we will not “be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:21). It isn’t constructive to rail against the night unless you are willing to strike a match against the darkness. In the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul gives us clear direction on how to accomplish this goal. He gives us a course of action that can be lived in our own personal lives and that can be the basis for living within our culture. Renew your mind. Read Romans 12.