Keeping Christ at the Center of a Self-Centered Culture
Yvette Harris is an example for how overbearing our culture has become.
Harris is one of the many Americans who have unstable credit, so she had to turn to auto loans that contained high interest rates and fees in order to purchase a car.
This was the case when Harris repossessed her 1997 Mitsubishi in 2004. Today, she is still paying it off. This is not an uncommon problem. Many people across the country have had an issue with paying off auto loans that expand into decades, just like Harris here.
The reason that Harris and numerous other Americans are still paying off these loans is that lenders are trying to take advantage of whatever money people have. They attempt to work with auto dealers in extending high-interest loans to Americans. People have to face these debts head-on because without a car, they will not be able to get to their necessary destinations, whether it is school, work, or a doctor’s appointment.
You can read more about Ms. Harris story here, but the point that I am trying to make here is that our culture has gone crazy. Debt is one of the many issues that plague our culture today. Abortion and homosexual marriage are being practiced. People are getting killed for senseless reasons everyday.
This does not just apply to the secular culture. Christians themselves are struggling in living in this culture too. They live in debt everyday because of their overwhelming desire of material possessions. They struggle living in a culture that advocates the seductive power of women. They have a difficult time living in dependence on a sovereign God when culture tries to convince them they can only find the answer within themselves.
Author and pastor Paul David Tripp elaborates on this cultural insanity in his 2013 book, Sex & Money. Specifically, he discusses the two biggest (and most neglected) issues among the Christian church today. It sheds the beauty of the gospel into the pleasures of sex and money and how we can live them out in the perspective of eternity.
In the final chapter, Tripp offers nine different ways in which we are to live out our identity in Christ in the midst of this insane culture. They all revolve around the perspective that God in His magnificent grace has given us all we need to combat these battles, and most of all, He has given us Himself.
I will list the nine below, and I want to elaborate on three that I believe are most important for this topic.
- I am never alone.
- I have all the resources I need.
- I am forgiven.
- There is someone who understands me.
- Change is possible for me.
- Weakness is not my big problem, but my delusion of strength is.
- I have been given rich wisdom for daily living.
- It is only the riches of grace that satisfy my heart.
- It’s guaranteed that my struggle with sex and money will end.
The first one I want to expand on is the truth that in Christ, we are forgiven. If we have repented of our sin and put our faith into what Jesus Christ did on the cross, we have received His eternal forgiveness, clothed in His righteousness, and most importantly, we have been given an eternal home in heaven. Yet, we often get too wrapped up in our culture to really remember that Christ has redeemed us from the sin that exists in that culture. He has forgiven us, so we can walk in the truth that although we will mess up everyday, God has provided us grace and Himself that forgive us of our sins. It liberates us from the power that sin holds, and we can walk in the freedom that Christ has provided us. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 6:23
Secondly, there is the truth that we thrive on our weakness, despite us believing our strength is all that is necessary to live in Christ’s love. Tripp uses the famous verse from the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Tripp repeats this truth frequently throughout the book — “We were created to live in dependence.” We will never have the answer within ourselves. We are finite human beings who struggle with many various trials and sins daily. When we come to truly grasp the severity of our sin and the burdening weight of our trials, we come to the humbling realization that the answer is not within ourselves. The answer comes through dependence on a loving, powerful, merciful Savior who has given us the greatest gift we could ever receive — Himself. His grace, his mercy, his wisdom through Scripture, and so much more. We are also given the ability to pray to Him, bringing to Him our needs, requests, and praises. All of these things that God has given us reveals one constant truth — human beings were created to be dependent.
Lastly, we know that our battle with sin will end one day. When we grieve and mourn over our sin nature, we feel like this will last forever. We sometimes believe that this sin-stricken world will never end, and we just have to deal with it. However, we must remind ourselves that this world is not our final destination, but a pathway leading to the final destination — heaven. The apostle John paints a beautiful picture of the new heaven and earth in Revelation 21,
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” — Revelation 21:1–4 (ESV)
What an amazing truth this is for Christians. They have an eternal home waiting for them, where sin, death, evil, and pain shall be no more. God is at His rightful place as the center of our worship. We will live peacefully with Him and fellow believers for ages to come. That alone should give us encouragement to flee from our sin and to cling to Christ.
Situations like Yvette Harris is going through gives us discouragement for the absurdity our culture has become. However, these truths can be of great encouragement to us believers of Jesus, knowing that one day, our sinful battle will be over.