Christ or Culture?


When I went to Okinawa for my first tour of duty, I found it shockingly different than the United States. I grumbled and complained that the food was different, that the people’s attitudes and language were strange, that they drove differently, and that stores did not have what I wanted. On and on I went with a litany of what was wrong with Japan. The explanation for my grumbling was simple—the culture was different. And because it was, it influenced everything. Culture has a HUGE impact on life!

  • How has a change in culture (for travel, work, or school) impacted you? What did you enjoy? What did you find challenging?

READ THE WORD: I Thessalonians 4:1-8 (ESV)

4:1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.


  1. What did Paul say believers ought to do? Did he condemn or commend the Thessalonians?
  2. Did Paul indicate that they should already know how to do this? If so, how?
  3. What did Paul declare is God’s will for followers of Jesus? What does this mean? Practically, how did he describe it? (Note, in verses 3-6, three times he used the word “that” in connection to it.)
  4. What did Paul say about the Thessalonians if they choose to ignore or reject God’s will about this (vs. 8)? What is the connection between disregarding the apostles’ teaching and disregarding God and the Holy Spirit?
  5. What areas of controlling your body in holiness and honor do you need the Lord’s help with? Ask God to guide your thoughts and actions so that you will honor him.

RESPOND TO GOD defines culture as “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.” You might be surprised to discover that part of Greek religion in Paul’s day involved sexual relations with temple prostitutes in the name of worshipping God. Tragically, in spite of Christianity’s influence, our culture focuses on sexuality, portraying immorality as the norm. It invades every aspect of society, even the television shows we watch. To take a stand otherwise subjects one to ridicule. Believers should have a biblical (God-authored) culture that controls our values and behavior. Today, as then, we must choose to stand counter to culture for Christ. To do less is to disregard the Savior we say we love.

  • Father, help me to honor you by walking in the way pleasing to you that you have shown in your Word.