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Culture shock is usually something experienced by individuals who move from one place to another. But increasingly, those of us who uphold traditional Christian values are experiencing culture shock without leaving home. The decadence is defeating. People think they want a permissive culture where anything goes. But it comes at a cost, and multitudes are struggling to cope with the turbulence caused by their own moral choices. Everywhere we turn, people are facing culture shock.

Where is God in all this? Where are you? How can we cope with today’s decadence? How can we turn the tables and shock people with grace? As never before, people need culture shock treatment—an answer to the confusion, chaos, despair, pain, and loss of a society facing septic shock.

They need to see Jesus.


Confusion: An Opportunity to Meet the God of Truth

Jesus came to represent His Father to a chaotic culture, and we can learn a lot about the Father by noticing the biblical phrase, “The God of….” Several times, for example, the Bible speaks of the “God of truth.” Moses said, “He is… a God of truth” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

The reason we’re in a mess is that we’ve rejected the truth.

The reason we’re in a mess is that we’ve rejected the truth—even the very concept of truth—and that leads to confusion. Jeremiah Johnston wrote, “It does not matter what the atheist (or nihilist) professors claim. Human beings are spiritual beings. God’s fingerprints are placed on every human heart. We hunger for the spiritual and when we’ve cast God out the door, when we ridicule and mock the Christian faith and replace it with odd, even diabolical, paranormal hocus pocus, we become entrapped.”1

Peter put it well in John 6:68: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” That’s a question for our times. When you feel confused by the culture, turn to the unchanging truth of God’s Word; and keep His words on your lips, always ready to share Scriptures with someone needing a word from the God of Truth.

Chaos: An Opportunity to Meet the God of Peace

Our culture is also in chaos, which provides an opportunity to introduce people to the “God of peace.” Paul told the Romans, “The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” He told the Philippians, “The God of peace will be with you.” He told the Thessalonians, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely.”

Recently a report surfaced of a young woman in Ukraine who was confused and in great despair. Walking along a channel, she planned to drown herself. A breeze blew a leaf into her face. Snatching it and looking at it, she saw it was a leaf from the book of Psalms, which had been ripped out of a Bible. She read about the God of mercy and peace, and through those words, she received Jesus as her Savior.2

The best shock treatment in the world is a leaf of truth from the God of peace.

I’m reminded of the old song that says, “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.” The winds of chaos are leaving people in shock, but the best shock treatment in the world is a leaf of truth from the God of peace—perhaps a Scripture you distribute.

Despair: An Opportunity to Meet the God of Hope

Our world is also shocked with a sense of despair, but there’s a treatment for that too. Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Our world worships many gods—the god of money, the god of sex, the god of fame, the god of power, the god of pleasure. But none of them can be called the “God of hope.” Only our God deserves that name.

I know you’re tired of politicians, courts, and media pundits who keep pushing our world further from God. But I have a theory. It’s all going to lead to a level of personal despair that will drive many people back to the Lord, so we’ve got to stay hopeful. The Bible says, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

If we’re hopeful, we’ll be helpful. We’ll be able to administer the culture shock treatment of hope in the name of Christ.

Pain: An Opportunity to Meet the God of Comfort

The Bible also uses the term “the God of comfort” to describe our Lord. He “comforts us in all our tribulation,” says 2 Corinthians 1:4, “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

When I’m overwhelmed by the evil I see around me, I turn my eyes to God. I remember Jesus. I remember the Cross and the Resurrection. I meditate on His reign and His sovereignty. That comforts me so much. I’m able to comfort others. And that’s the way to provide culture shock treatment to those around you. We comfort others with the comfort we receive as we see Jesus.

Loss: An Opportunity to Meet the God of Heaven

We can also help people in times of loss. Seven different books of the Bible use the phrase “the God of heaven” to describe our Lord. Psalm 136:26 says, “Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever.”

We’ve lost a lot in our day. We’ve lost our moral bearings and our societal roots in biblical truth, and those losses make other losses intolerable. When someone without God loses a loved one, for example, they’ve lost that loved one forever.

Christ came to introduce us to the God of heaven.

But that’s why Christ came—to introduce us to the God of heaven.

Imagine what Christ faced as He entered our world. Talk about culture shock! One day He was robed in light on the throne of glory, and the next day He was wrapped in swaddling cloths in a pile of hay.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Jesus inserted Himself into our culture to represent the God of heaven. He is still inserting Himself into the culture through you and me. As difficult as we find these days, they provide opportunities for helping others see the Savior. And He Himself is the best culture shock treatment in the world.

Focus on Him. Find time each day for quiet reflection, Bible study, prayer, and meditation on the God of truth, the God of peace, the God of hope, the God of comfort, and the God of heaven.

Find ways of engaging the culture on this basis. Look for those who are confused, chaotic, hurting, facing despair, mourning loss. Remind them that God is with us in the midst of a chaotic culture, and we need to see the Savior as He works here among us.

Look for places to volunteer that will bring your path across those needing help. Be proactive. Get involved. Share your faith. Distribute Scriptures. Show up at evangelistic rallies. Invite others to Gospel meetings. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends how you can pray for them. Put your hand on someone’s shoulder and say, “God loves you, and so do I.”

It may shock them, but that’s the kind of culture shock they need.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NIV).

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Turning Points devotional magazine.


1Jeremiah J. Johnston, Unanswered (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2015), 126.

2“A Torn Page from God’s Word Becomes a Life Preserver,”–of–how–gods–word–has–prevented–suicide/.


I need help

making sense of
an ongoing illness the pain I am experiencing a natural disaster a prodigal child death my depression financial debt the coronavirus


Your response has been received, and we will be praying for you.

Look for answers to some of the most common questions in the weeks ahead.

One of the most exciting discoveries young children make as they learn to draw is the use of perspective. For example, a sheet of paper is two–dimensional—it has width and length, but no depth. So how do you draw a three–dimensional object, like a large building or railroad tracks receding into the distance, in a two–dimensional medium? By using perspective. Railroad tracks grow closer and closer together as they recede into the distance until they appear to merge together. And the height of a building is shorter in the background than it is in the foreground. Perspective changes everything; it adds a whole new way of seeing.

But nothing confuses our perspective like movement. When things are stable, we have time to look at them and understand them. But when things are moving or shifting, it is much harder to decide what exactly is going on. It is no accident that the most important future event in the history of mankind is being affected by the most constantly shifting reality in our world: human events as reflected in the 24/7, always–on, media–rich news feed.

How do we keep our eye on the prize—the return of Christ to establish His kingdom—when the perspective is constantly shifting? Are the signs of the times really changing, or do we just think they are because we see more of everything than at any time in history?


The World’s Perspective

The current generation of Millennials has grown up awash in news; they’ve never known life any other way. But many of us can remember when the CNN television network began the 24–hour, always–on news cycle in 1980. Then, when the Internet came alive in the mid–1990s, the information revolution leaped geometrically again. By 2005, social media was in full swing, and we haven’t looked back. We are saturated with news about the ever–shifting landscape of our world. Words and images flow around the planet at the speed of light via satellites and fiber–optic cables. By the time the major television networks broadcast their half–hour evening news programs, the news is old. Most people already know what has happened during the day.

We are saturated with news about the ever–shifting landscape of our world.

Realize it or not, this daily saturation of news changes our perspective of the present and the future—especially because so many of the reports are troubling. Consider what we witnessed in 2020: Australian bushfires that burned 47 million acres and U.S. wildfires that burned vast swaths of land;1 COVID–19 and the ensuing global recession; an outbreak of tornadoes across the South that killed more than thirty people over the course of two days;2 police–involved deaths, protests, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement; Asian giant hornets in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps the most sobering news is from Open Doors USA, which reports more than 260 million Christians experienced high levels of persecution in 2020, and 2,983 died as martyrs.3

Those stories represent disasters, conflicts, diseases, governmental shifts, and instability—and contribute to the general sense that no one really knows what is going on and what the future holds. But they are also just the tip of the iceberg—the crises in our world are too numerous to list, and there is no hiding from them.

Some people think the world is no worse off than it has ever been; it just seems that way because we hear and see the news more constantly. But I disagree. It’s not just the amount of information we’re getting; it’s the kind of information as well. I believe these are signs of the times that tell us our world is hurtling toward its final act—or its “last days” as the Bible calls them (Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1; 2 Peter 3:3).

God’s Perspective

But we must keep our perspective! Instead of concluding that the world is out of control and that evil will spread and dominate the world, we must remember what is true: The troubles of this world are only a prelude to a thousand years of peace on earth and an eternity of bliss in the presence of God. The shifting sands of this world will never reveal that truth; it is found only in God’s Word, which never changes.

The troubles of this world are only a prelude to a thousand years of peace on earth and an eternity of bliss in the presence of God.

Jesus delivered that same message nearly 2,000 years ago to His disciples in what we call the Olivet Discourse—a lengthy sermon on the near and far future of God’s plans (Matthew 24:1–25:36; Mark 13:3–37; Luke 21:1–28). Scripture includes prophecy to show us a straight line that cuts through the roller–coaster hills and valleys of this world’s events—a line with an arrow tip pointing straight to the Second Coming of Christ and the consummation of history as we know it. Prophecy gives us a solid, unchanging perspective on the present and future of this world. Fulfilled prophecies in the past give us the confidence to stand firm when it comes to signs yet to be fulfilled.

This long teaching by Jesus was prompted by His disciples’ questions about the future (Luke 21:6–7). That is, the disciples of Jesus were just like us: They wanted to know how to understand the future in light of the present. They wanted to know how to separate the “signs” that matter from the “signs” that don’t. They wanted to stabilize their lives by sharpening their perspective. Isn’t that what we want as well?

Nothing will sharpen our perspective on world events in the present like knowing God’s prophetic timetable for the future.

The point of this article is not to review God’s prophetic program in detail. Instead, I want to remind you of an important truth: Nothing will sharpen our perspective on world events in the present like knowing God’s prophetic timetable for the future. Without God’s prophetic Word, we are at the mercy of this world’s events—and that is not where we want to be!

Here are three ways prophecy helps us keep a biblical perspective:

  1. The Promise of Prophecy. Spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). What God has said will come to pass. Can you say that about the words of the leaders of this world?
  2. The Power of Prophecy. In response to His disciples’ questions about the future, Jesus gave them prophetic signs and said, “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31). God’s, not man’s, words have the power to shape the future.
  3. The Praise of Prophecy. Regarding some of the difficult things that the future holds, Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). Looking at this world’s events can tempt us to hang our heads down in despair. Instead, Jesus said, lift them up and praise God that His plans are unfolding and our redemption is near.

Yes, we are living in the End Times—but that means we are standing at the threshold of a new heaven and new earth, thanks to God’s prophetic plan!


1Jackie Salo, “2020 Events: Yep, these things all happened in the year from hell,” New York Post, December 31, 2020,–2020–events/, accessed on January 12, 2021.

2Jim Foerster, “Five 2020 Weather Events You May Not Have Heard About,” Forbes, January 8, 2021,–2020-weather–events–you–may–not–have–heard–about/, accessed on January 12, 2021.

3“Christian Persecution,”–persecution/?initcid=20SRP, accessed on January 12, 2021.


If you had been a missionary to Africa in the nineteenth century, you would have been traveling to “the Dark Continent” and “the White Man’s Graveyard.” That’s how people in the West viewed Africa—a vast, unexplored continent filled with as many question marks as people and wild animals. You might as well have been assigned to a planet in outer space.

But that’s where British medical missionary and explorer David Livingstone went and spent thirty years, beginning in 1841. Maps of Africa at that time had vast blank spaces on them. Rivers, if known, were unnamed in Western terms. There were no roads, no country borders, no landmarks—just trails, jungles, mountains, and plains that were home to people, animals, diseases, and customs almost wholly unknown to Westerners.


Livingstone was encouraged to go to Africa by a missionary to Bechuanaland Protectorate (modern Botswana) named Robert Moffat. There, Moffat said, he had seen “the smoke of a thousand villages, where no missionary had ever been.” His culture shock revealed the need. So Livingstone went—and spent three decades pulling the curtain back and letting the civilizing light of the Gospel shine on the Dark Continent.

The nineteenth century is often referred to as the Golden Age of Missions. Western missionaries—American and British primarily—began taking the Gospel into barely–known regions of the world. While Africa was perhaps the darkest and least–known of the continents, the culture shock for Western missionaries was serious wherever they went: Hudson Taylor to China, William Carey to India, Adoniram Judson to Burma, and others.

As radical as was the culture shock of those missionaries, there is one instance more dramatic than all those combined: when Jesus Christ left heaven and came to earth.

Their Culture Shock

Walther Eichrodt (d. 1978) was a Swiss theologian who was famous for his use of “irruption” to describe the way God came to earth: “That which binds together indivisibly the two realms of the Old and New Testaments… is the irruption of the kingdom of God into this world and its establishment here.”1

Just as David Livingstone entered darkest Africa from the outside, so Christ entered into the darkness of humanity from outside.

What is irruption? The best way to understand what irruption means is to think of its opposite: eruption. When a volcano erupts, it explodes from the inside. When something irrupts, it enters explosively from the outside. That’s what happened when Jesus came to earth and announced the explosive presence (irruption) of the kingdom of God. Just as David Livingstone entered darkest Africa from the outside, so Christ entered into the darkness of humanity from outside.

Philippians 2:5–11 is the classic text that describes the culture shock Christ experienced when He left heaven and came to earth: “But [Christ] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (verse 7). Christ left the glory of heaven and the fellowship of the Trinity and journeyed to a planet made dark by sin. He became like—physically but not in His character—those He came to save. He left the throne room of God and became a slave. In short, Paul writes, “though He was rich… He became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Think of the culture shock Jesus experienced living in a fallen world. Even though He entered this world as a babe and was gradually “acclimatized” to human culture, He was never without the presence of the Spirit (John 3:34) and an awareness of His heaven–sent mission, even as a child (Luke 2:41–52). But He never got used to selfish ambition, lying, stealing, deceit, killing, sexual sin, profanity, sickness, demon possession—these things were an affront and an offense to His divine sensibilities. Yet His mission required that He live in the presence of cultural offense without becoming part of its practice.

Think of the culture shock Jesus experienced living in a fallen world.

Jesus discovered on earth what missionary Don Richardson found in New Guinea—everything was backward! In his 1974 book, Peace Child, Richardson told how the Sawi people applauded Judas and laughed at Jesus upon hearing the story of Judas’ betrayal. In their culture, trickery and deceit were high values, and Jesus was a fool who got duped for thirty pieces of silver.

If Don Richardson was shocked at such a reversal of values in New Guinea, imagine how shocked Jesus must have been to discover how dramatically humanity had reversed the values of heaven. No wonder He taught His disciples to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Our Culture Shock

Jesus experienced culture shock. Nineteenth–century missionaries experienced culture shock. And we are experiencing culture shock as well. It’s as if we have fallen down “Alice in Wonderland’s” rabbit hole, spinning and tumbling into an environment we don’t recognize and can’t understand.

But remember: This is not new! From the Garden of Eden forward, this world has been a strange and threatening place for those who seek to follow God. The current manifestations of sin in our world may be more modern, but there is nothing new under the sun of sin. Our challenge is the challenge of the ages for the people of God: Do not grow weary in well–doing (Galatians 6:9); do not become of the world while living in the world (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 9:19–23; 1 John 2:15–17).

What can we learn about God and His purposes as we see chaos, immorality, and secularism rising all around us?

But there is another challenge: What can we learn about God and His purposes as we see chaos, immorality, and secularism rising all around us? Once we get acclimatized to our culture shock, how can we use it to our advantage? How can we make it a spiritual asset instead of a spiritual liability?

  1. We remember the need. Christ said He did not come to minister to those who are well but to those who are sick (Mark 2:17). Instead of being frustrated by “the sick,” we must see them as the reason for Christ coming to earth.
  2. We remember the beauty of Christ. Christ is everything like us in His humanity (Isaiah 53:2; Hebrews 5:8) and nothing like us in His deity (Hebrews 4:15). The corruption of the world reminds us of His perfection. He is, in His beauty, what we are destined to become (Romans 8:28–29).
  3. We remember the dangers of sin. We are warned about the dangers of thinking we are beyond sin (1 Corinthians 10:12). There, but for the grace of God, go we.
  4. We remember the truth of Scripture. John reminds us that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19) but that “the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
  5. We remember the solution. Mankind seeks solutions to manifold problems. But we remember, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The best thing we can do for our world is to manifest Christ.
  6. We remember our priorities. “Fixing the world” is out of our hands. We are to focus on what we can do, not worry about what we can’t do. That means prayer, having biblical reasons for our hope, being salt and light, and sharing the Gospel.
  7. We remember the outcome. “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1). The Judge of all the earth will do right (Genesis 18:25).

In short, culture shock has a purpose: To remind us of the world’s need for Christ. When we go out into the world—mission trips, serving the needy, helping a troubled neighbor, praying for the world’s “hot spots”—we stay aware. By insulating ourselves from the “sick” in this world, not only can we not help them, but we lose sight of the power of the Great Physician and His ability to meet their needs as well as ours.

Don’t be shocked by what is happening in our world. It is normal; it is what happens when people refuse the grace of God. Instead, let your life be an echo of the words of Jesus, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Remember: You and I were part of the world’s chaos before we met Jesus (Ephesians 2:12). God has not turned His back on our chaotic world, and neither can we.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Turning Points devotional magazine.


1Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, Vol. 1 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1961), 26.


According to Rick Steves, there are two kinds of European tourists: “Those who view Europe through air–conditioned bus windows, socializing with their noisy American friends, and those who are taking a vacation from America, immersing themselves in different cultures, experiencing different people and lifestyles, and broadening their perspectives.”1 If we hope to avoid being lumped with the “Ugly Americans” of the first group, Steves recommends behaving more like guests than critics. This requires taking a genuine interest in the people and places we visit. We may prefer our American customs and culture, but it would be insensitive to expect locals to share our feelings.

Christians living in America, or any modern nation, would be wise to follow this advice. As citizens of heaven, we yearn for the holiness and customs of our homeland. But we cannot expect our neighbors and politicians to adopt the Bible as their Magna Carta if Jesus Christ is not their Lord. Rather than pointing out all the ways our culture falls short of God’s standards, we can conduct ourselves like travel agents who are appointed to promote heaven—and all that it entails—as the ideal destination. Our life and ministry will be more fruitful and pleasant if we take a thoughtful approach.


The Root of the Problem

It’s been an interesting study to watch believers stand in pulpits and criticize our culture as evil. Indeed, it would be difficult to disagree with the truth of that statement. Yet there is a Bible verse that outlines simple steps for making a difference in our lives and in our nation, and we don’t find a commentary on cultural finger–pointing. What we find is a call for God’s people to repent. This is the key to unlock God’s forgiveness and healing for our nation.

Second Chronicles 7:14 says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

If My People Will Humble Themselves

Everyone who has conducted a definitive study on revival has pointed out that renewal doesn’t start in the culture. It begins in the Church. It begins in the heart of the Christian. And perhaps one of the things we can learn from some of our past failures is that if we ever get to the place where we get so culture–minded that we are not Christ–minded, we are doomed to failure. We offer the world only the emptiness of our own rhetoric. We must come to them with hearts that are overflowing with the love of God and the peace of Jesus Christ. And then we can make a difference in this world.

If My People Will Pray and Seek My Face

I could prove to you from history that the most significant changes in American culture have not started in huge rallies or even in patriotic demonstrations. They have started in quiet, small gatherings where people began to pray. And they began to pray that God would make a difference in their country. The four great spiritual awakenings that have been historically chronicled in this country were fueled by a few people seeking after God. And it began to grow until it exploded into a revival that no one could understand if they didn’t know God.

If My People Will Turn From Their Wicked Ways

If we stand up and we don’t kneel down, we have ignored the most powerful resource God has given us to win the battle that is before us. A Christian stands the tallest when he is on his knees. We have forgotten that humility is the cause of change in the culture. Some evangelical leaders call us to political mobilization and strategic marketing. Those may not be bad ideas, but God wants the Church to begin with mourning for what’s happening in our culture—and to take responsibility for whatever part we have had in it.

We shake our heads at the demise of prayer in schools, and then we don’t pray when we have the freedom and the right to do it. Statistics suggest that, while we champion the sanctity of life, we abandon our children at the same rate as non–Christians. The problem is not entirely “out there.” It’s in our hearts. And the rebuilding begins with the humbling of ourselves before God.

Please join me in praying for the future of our nation and searching the Scriptures for godly wisdom.

A Prayer for America

Almighty God,

In all history, there has been only one nation like America—founded by pilgrims seeking freedom to worship, established on a vast continent between two oceans, dedicated to the proposition that we are created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights: One nation under God.

You have delivered us in war, prospered us in peace, and raised up generations willing to offer the last full measure of their devotion for the preservation of liberty at home and abroad.

We have been a light for the world.

From our shores has gone the greatest missionary force in history.

But now, Lord, America has fallen into darkness, disobedience, and indifference.

We have sinned; and we, Your people, Lord, humble ourselves, and pray and seek Your face, and turn from our wicked ways. Please forgive our sin and heal our land.

Give us leaders who understand the times and know what we should do. May the torch of liberty burn brightly, inflamed by the goodness of Your people.

God, bless America.

In Jesus’ Name.



1“Ugly American Sentiment Abroad,”–room/ugly–american–sentiment–abroad, accessed on January 21, 2021.


Does today’s anti–Christian rhetoric make you mad? Do you ever get so fed up that you’d like to give someone a piece of your mind? The standards and convictions of Christianity place us at odds with our culture. So how can we maintain our Christian composure in a confrontational age?

We can learn from Jesus. He was neither weak nor rude. He spoke clearly and confidently, yet without venom or virulence. The apostle Peter, sometimes a loose cannon, learned that lesson well. In his first epistle, Peter instructed us to handle opposition as Jesus did. The theme of 1 Peter is to walk in His steps, to follow Christ’s example when facing hostility.

#1: Speak Up – Respectfully

That means speaking up when needed. Peter told us to “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). We’re to speak as if delivering “the oracles of God” (4:11). We’re to preach the Gospel given by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (1:12). So if you get half a chance, say a word for the Lord.


But Peter also reminded us to present our defense of the faith “with meekness and fear, having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (3:15–16). He warned us about grumbling (4:9) and to be submissive to governing authorities (2:13–14).

The old word for this is “manners.” Augustine of Canterbury was a missionary who sought to revive Christianity in England following the breakdown of Roman rule. When a conflict arose between Augustine and some of the indigenous Celtic Christians, a meeting was proposed. The local believers arrived, but Augustine didn’t rise from his chair to meet them. His attitude seemed ungracious, and the relationship broke down, leading to years of division.

It is vital for Christians to be gracious and to be patient in conflict. Yes, Jesus spoke with a fiery passion, and I’m amazed at the bluntness of His “Woe to You” sermon to the Pharisees and scribes in Matthew 24. But Christ always controlled His anger, and Peter said, “Arm yourselves also with the same mind” (1 Peter 4:1).

In our hostile world, a smile and a pleasant demeanor stand out like a redbird on a snow–covered landscape. We can fight the good fight, but we can do so in a Christlike manner. As someone once said: “To win some, be winsome.”

#2: Know When to Keep Quiet

We can also learn from Jesus the fine art of keeping quiet. By His example, Jesus taught us that sometimes a closed mouth offers the loudest testimony. Our Lord’s majestic silence still evokes dignity as we read of Him standing before Herod, Pilate, and the Sanhedrin, offering not a word of despair or defense.

One of the secrets of the martyrs has been their ability by God’s grace to maintain self–possession when being treated indignantly. Throughout the ages, they have displayed a poise and peace that completely confounded those who have been intent on destroying them. It was undoubtedly the glow on Stephen’s face and his words of forgiveness that haunted the young Saul of Tarsus until he became Paul the apostle.

In 1 Peter, wives of unbelievers are encouraged to win their husbands to Christ, if possible, “without a word” by the power of “a gentle and quiet spirit” (3:1, 4).

However, we can always open our mouth to the Lord in prayer, for Peter told us to cast all our cares on Him (5:7). Jesus taught, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you…” (Matthew 5:44). Why this advice? First, for our opponents’ sake. They badly need someone interceding for them. But another reason is for our own sake. Praying for our foes (think of some outspoken humanist, secularist, or atheist you know) helps keep our hearts in balance when we’re caught up in a culture clash.

As we pray, we can also leave grievances with God lest a root of bitterness spring up. Peter told us, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth,’ who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21–23). We’re to “commit our souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (4:19). We can’t right all the wrongs, nor can we change people’s spots. But we can do our best, leave the rest to God, and shake the dust off our feet along the way.

#3: Let Your Good Works Speak for Themselves

Finally, we find peace amid the conflict when we let our good works speak for themselves. “(Have) your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

In Luke 14, Jesus attended a dinner where His foes watched to see if He would violate Sabbath regulations. A diseased man was present. Jesus asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” The Pharisees kept silent, so Jesus healed the man. Turning to the crowd, He asked, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”

Luke tells us, “They could not answer Him regarding these things” (verse 6).

The world has a hard time finding fault in good works. When we feed the hungry, care for the unfortunate, adopt orphans, provide relief, and live out our faith, our critics fall silent.

As Christians, we must confront our culture and speak the truth in love. We’re God’s ambassadors in a hostile world. This is no time to go mute. Morals are spiraling downward, marriage is under attack, the Church barely clings to cultural margins, atheists are scorning the truth, and humanists are relentlessly advancing an ungodly agenda on a new generation. We have to speak up. But we must do so as Christ did—and He was never ill–tempered, hot–headed, loose–lipped, or bad–humored. We have to watch ourselves because the whole world is watching us, and when others see us, we want them to see Him.