There is the fact that society’s values are in an ever-changing mode. Because of the many means of communication available to us today that change happens much quicker. The haste to comply, accept, or find ways around these changing values is proving to be a difficult task for the church. We, society and our changing culture tend to bring this issue of values down to one or two, focus on them, not seeing an overall vision for society, in short we focus on those issues we hold personally acceptable. We tend to believe that values are a personal thing and are restricted to a specific group, which in turn leads us to the acceptance that there is a natural gap between community life and life within the community of faith, the church. We lose sight of the fact that it is our responsibility as Christians to bridge that gap and take to society what the church has to offer. When we speak of values exactly what does that word mean. The dictionary gives this answer to the meaning of personal values as a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.
The gap we are looking at is the one between the church community and society. Like all things in this era of digital enlightenment nothing is ever simple. Just a side thought to this is that perhaps we have become so dependent on this world of digital enlightenment we forgot how to think things through, just put it in and press enter. I did just that to get a definition of the word values. Wasn’t all that bad and I settled on this one.
‘Basic human values refer to those values which are at the core of being human. The values which are considered basic inherent values in humans include truth, honesty, loyalty, love, peace, etc. because they bring out the fundamental goodness of human beings and society at large.’There is that word toward the end of the paragraph that is what I refer to as an influencer. The word society makes the task of the church difficult because the concept of society is so viable as to content it is hard to access it as anything other than confusingly inclusive.
Here is a definition of society: ‘A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.*
Let me add to the paragraph above this little caveat. Social values are a set of moral principles defined by society dynamics, institutions, traditions and can be influenced often by cultural beliefs. Consider this… ‘Social values form an important part of the culture of the society. … They provide the general guidelines for social conduct. Values such as fundamental rights, patriotism, respect for human dignity, rationality, sacrifice, individuality, equality, democracy etc. guide our behavior in many ways’**
At this point it is clear that the gap is more than just a small divide or reasonable disagreement as to how we bridge this gap. Faith and good intentions requires works and that requires going outside the walls and being among people. Matthew, Mark and Luke gave us some direction. The charge has been given, the command has been received and it has been written…. We are to go out into all the world, share and teach what Jesus has taught us. Luke writes that we also must preach repentance and remission of sins to the world in Jesus’ name, the same beginning at Jerusalem, in other words it starts at home. The values that create the gap are a reflection of what we teach at home to our families, within our church community and are the foundation of our faith. We have the power to influence the cultural influences that shape society by showing people a better way to live. If I were to list the first thing we must do to bridge the gap, it would be to restore the family. The destruction of family values and moral teachings has weaken the impact of faith based values in our country and allowed the impact and acceptance of cultural changes to set societies values and norms. Last week I focused on those Advent candles, Peace, Hope, Joy and Love, which were part of a paper written by Brian Edgar about the ‘Eight Core Christian Values’. The other four are grace, faith, service and justice. I am going to bring this weeks blog to a close looking at two of these last four, service and justice. A Christian perspective of justice puts many of us in a state of uncomfortableness. We all accept the fact that slavery in any form is wrong and justice would demand we not enable it in any way or accept it as having ever being right. The fact that so many people are hungry and without shelter in a nation of such wealth is an injustice. Christian justice demands that the weak and disadvantaged are cared for wether they deserve it or not. Simply put, we cannot apply the concepts or agreed values of society to do justice for those less fortunate among us. The grace, mercy and love of all people is God’s way and he calls on us to do the same. I encourage you to go to the scriptures and seek justice as defined by God. Closing out with service, and the thought that we should be able to do what suits me, my family or my group best is really opposite a biblical perspective. We as Christians are called to lay that notion aside and embrace the fact that service is giving of ones self that others might be saved. The laying aside of our needs to meet the needs of others. The putting aside a self-centered attitude and serving all humanity as Christ did when he died on that cross for all God’s people.
We can bridge that gap by showing the community what we have to offer in the way of improving our social and cultural community by sharing the values of our Christian community and going beyond the word and doing those things that matter to those in need. Knowing and doing God’s will is a wonderful thing but love without a hug is just a word. Thanks for being in the pew this week, come back, there is always room.
Life is Good