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Understanding the Secular Culture, Part 2

From the series Not Beyond Reach

Are you struggling to keep up with all the trending worldviews and pop culture beliefs that are out there? Well, in this program, our guest teacher Aaron Pierce will give us some help as he picks up in his series, Not Beyond Reach. Learn the primary influences and philosophies of young people today and how seeing the world through their eyes helps us better connect with them.

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Message Transcript

Well, there’s basically four key influences.

First is entertainment industry. So, music, film, theatre, even sports to some degree. And the idea here is that we are not just entertaining, we are shaping a worldview.

And then you’ve got Internet stars. You know? People that are on platforms like TikTok and Instagram and YouTube that are producing content and connecting with audiences all over the world in a massive way.

And then you’ve got video games, which is massive. Bigger than Hollywood where the average twenty-one-year-old male has spent ten thousand hours playing video games. It’s where we find our community, our identity, our sense of accomplishment.

And then finally, you’ve got pornography, which is so common, so pervasive, it’s not even something to be ashamed of. Sexuality is just a personal pursuit of happiness, right? And pornography is harmless. And so, this is literally, you know, rewiring our brains and distorting our view of love and sexuality and relationships.

And all of these things come together to influence and shape a worldview. And what is interesting is they are not constrained by geographic or political boundaries. These things transcend that. In fact, these things are shaping a worldview far more than politics, far more than laws.

There’s a guy called Andrew Fletcher, an eighteenth-century Scottish writer and politician, at least, that said, “Let me make the songs of a nation and I care not who makes its laws.”

And so, what is really driving and shaping our culture today is not the legal process, it’s the cultural influencers, the artists, the poets, the philosophers that are shaping the worldview.

Alright? So, what are the philosophical pillars?

First one is secularism. So, I have already alluded to this but the idea here is that people are not necessarily atheist, they just believe that faith is private. So, you can believe whatever you want to believe so long as you don’t push that on other people, right? That’s the secular mindset. Faith is private, faith is not something to be brought out into the public.

And then of course that naturally leads to relativism that there is no absolute moral truth, that morality is about preference, that you have your favorites, I have mine. It’s like an ice cream flavor. Right? And so, you have this relativistic mindset.

And then that leads to the idea and the value of acceptance. But then, actually, tolerance is not enough, you must affirm.

And so, it’s based on the idea of being open-minded and it’s based on this kind of, like, authenticity and inclusion, but it’s a paradox, right? Because basically, it’s inclusion for all except the exclusive.

And so, that’s the paradox that we find ourselves in where to tolerate someone, to love someone is not enough. We must actually affirm that the way that they live their life. That is the message that you’re going to hear in the global youth culture.

And the what is interesting is all of these things, in some way, are just a twist on biblical truth. A lot of these things find their grounding in truth and then they are twisted. And it’s interesting because in the post-Christian culture that we live, we are still very much influenced by a biblical worldview, even if we have divorced ourselves from that, right?

So we, our, the fight for justice even if it’s twisted, like, even those that are pro-choice, it’s based on a framework of morality for them of protecting women, right? So, it’s a moral framework that they are drawing on. And that moral framework ultimately comes from a biblical worldview, which is there is a transcendent moral framework. And so, it’s really interesting.

To give you an example of this kind of post-Christian divorcing of the biblical worldview, a while back I was at a Caribou right around here and the barista had a pin on her shirt that said, “Be human-centered.”

And so, I asked her, like, “That sounds interesting.” So, I said, “What does that pin mean?” And she looked at me and said, “Oh, well, it means, you know, treat other people like you want to be treated and consider other people’s needs above your own.”

I listened to her say that, I was like, “Wow, that’s awesome, like, where did you, where do those ideas, where did that come from?” And she looked at me kind of confused and then she pointed at the pin. You know? This is where these ideas are coming from.

And so, it’s so crazy because here she is literally quoting Scripture, but she has completely divorced herself from that. That perfectly illustrates that post-Christian shift where we still hold to a biblical framework, but we have divorced ourselves from that. Which, by the way, is an incredible opportunity, because people connect with biblical truth even if they no longer hold that as an authority in their life.

So, what I want to do now is I want to show you a video of some people being interviewed on the streets of the University of Minnesota.

And we basically asked them four big worldview questions.

The first is origin: where did life come from? How did life begin?

The second is morality: what is right and wrong and who decides?

The third is purpose: what is the purpose of life?

And the last is destiny: what happens after we die?

The way that you answer those four questions, that essentially is your worldview.

And so, let’s take a look how these young people answer those questions.

Video:

Interviewer: How do you think we all got here? How did life begin?

Student 1: Um, it started with the Big Bang? Um, and I don’t really know much more than that.

Student 2: So, I believe in evolution and that we evolved from primates. I mean, there’s proof that our DNA is ninety-eight percent the same as chimpanzees, so…

Student 3: Probably just like a meteoroid with, like, some microbes on it that landed on earth from a different planet and then like, eventually evolved to become humans.

Interviewer: What is the purpose of life?

Student 1: Let me know when you figure it out. Yeah.

Student 2: I’m still working on that one.

Student 3: Make your own. Like, I don’t think there’s no, like, grand purpose for anybody. Just, like, (*) everyone. It’s just, there is no purpose. Make up your own purpose (*) and run with it.

Student 4: To help continue the evolution of human beings as a species.

Interviewer: So, how do you think that right and wrong are decided?

Student 1: Um, I don’t know.

Student 2: I think it’s different for, like, everyone depending on, like, what they think is right and wrong. Because, like, people believe in different things, so it can’t be the same for everyone.

Student 3: That goes back to, like, your morals, I guess. It, like, because your right can be someone else’s wrong. So, it’s all, like, based on your morality, I guess, I take it.

Student 4: I think that, like, it depends on yourself and what you think is right and wrong and what you believe in. And as long as you stick to your beliefs and, like, carry out what the Bible says or what the Qur’an says or, like, whatever, then, like, you’re living your life to the fullest and that’s all that matters.

Interview: What do you think happens after we die?

Student 1: I don’t know. I mean, isn’t that kind of the beauty of it? You know, there’s a lot of people who are spiritual and have things in which they believe in and so it’s kind of a manifest of what you believe. I also feel like that is subjective because no one knows and so, I think that’s kind of the beauty of it.

Student 2: Nothing happens and hopefully you’ve lived your best life and if there is an afterlife, hopefully I lived within the boundaries to make it there, you know what I mean? So…

Student 3: I believe in heaven. I for sure believe in heaven. I don’t know if I believe in hell. I think that, like, if you want to believe in hell, then you’ll probably go to hell. Like…

Student 4: Rather than being showered with, you know, gold and jewels or living in someplace where you have to have wings and a harp, hopefully we just get reabsorbed into that consciousness that allows the oceans to move and the tides and the rivers and the trees to grow. And I hope…and maybe there’s nothing. Either way, it doesn’t matter.

End Video

Pretty interesting, right? So, here’s my first challenge to you is when you see that, there’s, like, a tendency to want to laugh when really what we should do is cry. Right? And this isn’t just some kind of fringe group of people that see the world in a weird way. This is the predominant way that people see the world.

I just want to summarize essentially what is it that the global youth culture believes when it comes to the origin of earth. You’re going to hear kind of scientific answers for how the earth came to be, but then we are also kind of drawing in Eastern religious energy and this idea. So, it’s kind of this combination of a naturalistic worldview combined with this vague spirituality that we talked about.

And then when it comes to morality, if you ask the average person, they’re going to say that morality is essentially a social construct, right?

But then social injustice must be fought with passion, right? So, you’ve got this weird combination of a social construct morality but yet a sense of obligation to fight injustice.

And then purpose, well, there is no purpose other than to seek personal happiness. That is the ultimate expression of purpose.

And then destiny, the answer is essentially, “I don’t know. And I try not to think about it.”

So, this tends to be the worldview of this global youth culture is how they see the world. And then it all comes down to this idea of secular humanism, which is the religion of self. The idea of secular humanism is that God has been replaced, man is at the center, and there’s no outside authority that can tell me how to live my life. And that the key to happiness is found within.

Just follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you who you are or what you want. Take care of yourself above all else. And so, it’s the era of my truth.

And in the era of my truth, identity, purpose, and morality is personally constructed. We define those things. You make your own meaning.

In a world where you define truth, what you get is confusion. In a world in which you do whatever makes you feel good, you get sexual brokenness.

And when it’s all about you, you get loneliness. When there’s nothing to hold onto besides yourself, you get anxiety. And the saddest thing of all is that we as followers of Jesus have the ultimate answers to these things, right? You know, Jesus brings truth to the confused. He brings healing to the sexually broken. He brings the ultimate relationship with our Creator and with the Church and He brings peace that transcends understanding. We have the answer to the cry of a generation and the sad thing is they are not looking to the Church for answers. They are not walking into the church.

And so, we, our response is that we need to go to them and our hearts need to break, because this isn’t a distant problem. This isn’t out there. This is personal. These aren’t just trends and statistics, these are our friends, sons, daughters, and grandkids. And so, when we hear this, our response should be like that of Nehemiah after he found out that the city of Jerusalem was ruined. And in Nehemiah chapter 1 verse 4, he said, “When I heard these things I sat down and wept.”

That should be our response, because until our hearts are broken, we are not going to do anything about it, because to the extent to which our hearts are broken is the extent to which we will sacrifice, that we will get uncomfortable, that we will lay down our needs, our preferences for the sake of the lost. We need our hearts to be broken.

But we can’t change our hearts, you know, that’s only something God can do. So what we can do is we can repent. And we can say, “God, my heart is cold. I don’t care for people like I should and it’s not right. I have even gotten apathetic about people in my own family. And I’m sorry. Would You forgive me? And would You give me Your heart?”

And when you start to pray that prayer, it’s a dangerous prayer because all of a sudden you’re going to start to see the world through God’s eyes. And you’re going to start to see people, maybe for the very first time. And when He gives you that broken heart, then you’re going to be willing to get uncomfortable, to be awkward, to take a step of faith and risk, because your heart is so broken and God has awoken us from our apathy.

And once our hearts are broken, then we need to pray like never before. We need to go on like Nehemiah, which says that, “For some days, I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” And biblical scholars estimate that Nehemiah actually prayed and fasted for four months before he eventually approached the king.

So, the question is: Why would Nehemiah pray and fast so long and with such intensity? And it’s because when God opened his eyes to the problem, he knew that he couldn’t fix it on his own, right? Because like Nehemiah, we need to recognize that the mission that we are called to, to bring the love of Jesus to people that are far from Him, that that mission is not hard, it’s impossible. Which means that no human strategy, no evangelism script, no, like, no approach is ever going to be enough. I can’t even solve the problems in my own family.

But we need to understand while the mission may be impossible, we serve the God of the impossible. And when we get on our knees in desperate prayer and cry out, “God, have mercy!” that’s when we’re going to see the breakthrough.

Because I don’t know about you, but I look around the world and all its brokenness and I can be overwhelmed. We need God to move. Our human efforts and wisdom are so woefully inadequate. We need God’s supernatural power.

And, you know, 1 Corinthians 4:20 says, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” And the amazing thing is that God loves to move through ordinary people like you and like me. But to experience God’s power like that, we have got to give Him everything, because Jesus is not calling us to give a lot, He is calling us to give everything.

It's 1 Thessalonians 2:8 that says, “We loved you so much we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well.” That’s what it’s going to take. We have got to, we have got to change our lifestyle. It’s a radical shift in lifestyle where we give everything that we have.

And the paradox of Jesus is that when you give your life, you find it. That’s the paradox of Jesus. And that when you give all that you have, your five loaves and your two fish, which is not enough, He can take that and He can do the supernatural. He can see that hardened heart, that person in your life that wants nothing to do with God, He can see their heart softened and awakened to the reality of Jesus. He can do the supernatural. All we have to do is give Him everything that we have.