Crowd Control in a Trending Culture

    January 06, 2020 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza

    Cultural trends are both intriguing and terrifying. They are those widespread changes in our culture that spring into existence and change the way we think and act, and what we like and call good. How do they start and catch on? Why do they end, sometimes with a screeching halt? It is fascinating when you stop to consider.

    Many cultural trends are fueled by technology, but not all. Some seem to be a step backward. I chuckle when youngsters today treasure the acquisition of vinyl record albums. We tossed them out when CD's came out in the early 1980's. Perhaps we should have held on to our record collections for future eBay and Craig's List fortunes.

    Cassettes and 8-track tapes may catch on again someday. If you are about to toss them into the trash, or clean your clutter with a yard sale or at a flea market, think twice. Today's junk may be tomorrow's jewels.

    What is terrifying about cultural trends is how quickly people will do the same thing. They claim it to be a unique mark of individuality, but in truth they are just trying to be as hip as the next person. Consider tattoos, for example. The average tattoo witnessed in my youth was a blue green anchor drawn on the forearm of a Navy veteran. Or perhaps it was a heart with the word "Mom" inside of it on the arm of a burly diner cook. Today, lots of people will tattoo anything and everything, with the most intricate of designs. Do you remember the first time you saw a bride on television or walking down the aisle in a white wedding dress with a "sleeve?"

    Prevalent cultural trends also include body piercings, ear gauges, yoga pants, selfies, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and Painting With a Twist. If you think that these trends are invulnerable to change, consider that the triple platinum song, "Macarena" is 20 years old this year and nobody hip would be caught dead doing the "Chicken Dance" of the early 1980's. Incidentally, the "Chicken Dance" was dubbed "the most annoying song of all time" in a 2000 internet poll.

    The scary thing about cultural trends is that large swaths of people swallow them "hook, line and sinker." They follow along without thinking things through and, even more than that, they give the incredulous onlooker the not so subtle impression that it is obvious that you should be doing it too. Trends can be insidious and are always pervasive.

    God does not change. (Malachi 3:6) There was never a time when He was not and there will never be a time when He will not be. He is not like humans who are distracted by the latest thing. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) He is our unchanging refuge in a rapidly changing world. King David sang,“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior." (2 Samuel 22:3)

    The principles of God's word do not change. "The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isaiah 40:8) "Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens." (Psalm 119:89) Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Matthew 24:35) God does not compromise or change His truth to accommodate the sinking sand of human sin or to capitulate to political correctness. Humanity vainly imagines it is becoming more sophisticated but all our technology and progress cannot stop us from wallowing in the same old sins.

    The Christian is a person who is swimming upstream, against the strong currents of cultural trends. People look at the Christian and advise, "Go with the flow, it's the only way to

    go." Yet, the wrath of God is coming with the return of Jesus Christ. The world has been deluded into a false sense of security. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:38-39) The Christian has been duly warned, and has jumped into the lifeboat of Jesus Christ. As Christian writer William Gurnall so eloquently put it, “If you saw a man jump from a ship into the sea, at first you might think him insane; but later if you saw him standing on the shore and the ship swallowed up by the waves, you would know he took the wise course.”

    Despite the coming judgment, evil has its corrupting influence and polluting effects in this life as well. Many of us living outside of God are more miserable than we would care to admit, even to ourselves. Things go wrong, and consequences come back to bite us. The person who turns his back on God is without hope in this world. Christian pastor D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it, there is a typical “kind of life that is being lived by the average person today who has no thought of God, no time for God, but thinks only of this world and this life and thinks in terms of time and is governed by certain instincts and desires." And the sands of time are sinking. It was British rock group Pink Floyd who poignantly reminded, "The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older. Shorter of breath and one day closer to death."

    "As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?" (Ezekiel 33:11) "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7) "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." (Acts 3:19)

    Christian author F.F. Bruce observed, "The Christian is one who has not 'placed all his eggs in the perishable basket.'" He has the faith to believe this is not all there is, and the wisdom not to be caught up in trends which distract a person from dealing with eternal matters. Christian writer Warren Wiersbe said it well, “A Christian is in the world physically, but he is not of the world spiritually.” Beware of the control of the crowd, run instead to the compassionate Christ. "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:17)

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