This year I have been studying cultural norms and their correlation on student’s beliefs and actions. Alabama falls into what many people refer to as the “Bible Belt”. Where salvation is gained through a life of good works. King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “There is nothing new under the sun”. If we observe the scriptures we can see these same cultural norms being pushed by the Jewish leaders. In Matthew 23:22 we see Jesus calling to light these norms which the Pharisees had been teaching. “For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.” The Pharisees were teaching a works based faith which focused on religious trivialities. They were missing the point of “justice, mercy and faithfulness”.
I have seen so many students fall prey to acting out religious cultural norms as the key for salvation as they fill the pews of the Church every Sunday, join bible studies, attend every on campus ministry, but are still missing the point of the gospel. C.S Lewis wrote a book called The Screwtape Letters which is a collection of letters from demons conversing with one another on how to deceive people away from the Lord. In one of the letter it says “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts..” Many Church going Christians are blinded to the fact that they are on a safe road headed straight for Hell. A road which says “As long as you are a good person, tithe and attend Church you are saved. David Platt also speaks out against this cultural norm in his book Radical. He calls men and women in the Church to live out a life in radical submission to the Lord.
Today I want to ask each of you the questions I have to continually ask myself, “Are you fully surrendering your whole life to Christ? What path would you say you are on? One of safety or one that will be filled with hardships and struggles?” The path God has set for his people it’s not easy and few take it. The path calls men and women to live for “justice, mercy and faithfulness”. The only way we can endure it is by “fixing our eyes upon Jesus”. (Hebrews 12:2)
Seeking out justice requires the power of God to sustain us. It calls us to live not for ourselves but to “Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17) Living a life of justice goes against the road of safety that cultural norms push us to. It takes us out of our comfort zone and requires us to live a life of full submission to the power of God for endurance. By fixing our eyes on Christ we live in His work of justice, mercy, and faithfulness in our lives and in our neighbor's.