A. 85 Years Have Brought Many Changes
What was the world like eighty-five years ago? We have a tendency to glamorize the “good old days,” forgetting that they had problems of their own. We also forget that they didn’t have many of the things that we enjoy today—like hearing aids, microwaves, and frozen pizza. No, the old days weren’t perfect by any means.
But I think it is accurate to say that today the culture overall is less friendly to Christianity than it was eighty-five years ago. The culture is more ready to challenge Christians about their faith and even demand that they set their faith aside in certain situations, as we’ve seen with recent cases of Christian photographers, bakers, florists, and even county clerks.
Like it or not, the culture has changed. Christianity is not the norm anymore. Russell Moore, who writes about cultural issues, tells about a conversation that he had with an atheist lesbian:
We had a respectful, civil conversation, though she couldn’t help but laugh out loud several times when I articulated [Christian] viewpoints…
She said I was the first person she’d ever actually talked to who believed that sexual expression ought only to take place within marriage, and that I was the only person she’d ever met in real life who thought that marriage could only happen with the union of a man to a woman…She followed this up by saying, “So do you see how strange what you’re saying sounds to us, to those of us out here in normal America?”
Before I could answer, I was distracted by those two words: “normal America.” How things had turned around. Most of the people in the pews of my church back home would consider themselves to be “normal America.”…But I suspect she’s right. More and more, she represents the moral majority…She is normal, now.
She snapped me out of my daydreaming by asking again, “Seriously, do you know how strange this sounds to me?” I smiled and said, “Yes, I do…But what you should know is, we believe even stranger things than that. We believe a previously dead man is going to show up in the sky, on a horse” (Moore, Onward).
This is where we are at eighty-five years later, and no amount of wishful thinking or complaining or boycotting will ever bring those days back. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and become Amish, but we also cannot strike back in anger. But what we do need to do is to learn how God wants us to live as Christians in this new culture.
The first thing we need to realize is that this the kind of culture where Christianity was first planted—and it thrived.
Case in point: Peter wrote the letter of 1 Peter around AD 64-65, about the same time that Rome was burned. The burning of Rome killed many people, left many more homeless, and destroyed buildings of religious and cultural value. The Romans were devastated. Emperor Nero, who hated Christians, blamed the burning of Rome on Christians. As a result, Christians were widely and viciously persecuted. Christians were covered with tar, hung up on poles, and burned to give light along roadways.
We can be thankful that we aren’t at that point…yet. Peter wrote this letter to help those persecuted Christians know how to survive in a world that despised them and what they stood for. His letter can also help us live in a culture that is becoming more and more anti-Christian.
If eighty-five years have brought many changes, we can also say…