Keys to the Kingdom
By Carolyn Tucker
Through the years, I’ve always appreciated the cue for when to stop playing the prelude for funeral services. After seating the family and the minister, the funeral director would walk past the piano and quietly say, “Finish this verse and we’ll be ready,” or “Play the chorus again and we‘ll start.“ His cue to me was very important for ensuring a smooth start of the service. Since I was unable to see what was happening out front, I relied on his cue. Cues are important, but we need to be careful who we take our cues from. Not just anybody will do.
The Passion Translation has the chapter heading, “Characteristics of the Last Days.” Apostle Paul is writing to young Pastor Timothy and boldly lays it on the line: “But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce. People will be self-centered lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families. They will be ungrateful and ungodly. They will become addicted to hateful and malicious slander. Slaves to their desires, they will be ferocious, belligerent haters of what is good and right” (2 Timothy 3:1-3 TPT). I could be wrong, but it appears these scriptures have become a reality in today’s culture.
I refuse to take my cues from today’s culture because it usually stands in the opposite direction of God‘s Spirit. Believers are called to be God lovers, people lovers, humbly gracious, reverent to God, and forgiving of others. I believe our American culture is actively practicing what Jesus talked about in Matthew 12:25 TEV: “Any country that divides itself into groups which fight each other will not last very long. And any town or family that divides itself into groups which fight each other will fall apart.”
Apostle Paul later admonishes the Romans on how to live as Christ followers in a pagan culture: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT). Believers need to be brazen enough to wisely decide for ourselves by allowing God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to lead us. Let’s leave the crowd behind and stop allowing society to influence us to do stupid stuff. I recently heard a message about how important it is for a shepherd to keep all the sheep safely together. Because if one wanders away from the flock, others will follow it and fall off the cliff just like the first one. Surely humans are smarter than sheep and won‘t do something silly or ungodly just because someone of influence does it.
As believers, let’s not become so well-adjusted to our culture that we fit into it without even thinking. Let’s continue to fix our focus on God and what He wants. If we’re asleep at the wheel, today’s influencers can drag us down to their level of disrespect for God. Many in our culture are faithless, twisted in their thinking, and defy general truth and the truth of God’s Word. They’re far from being trustworthy influencers from whom we should take our cues. I could be wrong, but it appears that some of them have lost their minds.
The Key: Let’s continue to conform to God’s standards and not today’s culture.