Character and Society
when society attempts to errode our values we need to re-evaluate based on three qualities of godly character.
- The strongest influence I feel on our character formation, unfortunately, is the society to which we belong.
- You belong to 1 of 3 societal influences in your life and these can switch. But they are...
1 Traditional-Directed: In this society you are motivated by tradition. "We've always done it that way and you better not try to change it." The problem with this cultural worldview is you neglect the fact that change is required for healthy development. If your character has been developed in this model you lack the ability to hold unswervingly to God's will when God's will runs counter to your culture.
2 Inner-Directed: In this societal model you are guided less by tradition and more by a moral compass. Take the Puritans for example as they left the traditions of their past to form a new country where they could worship God. The problem with inner-direction is that your moral compass is set by elders and parents. So unless you have a perfect model-setter your compass becomes less than true. We see this in today's culture. We can neglect the little things and it won't matter. It's right in the eyes of the collective group therefore it must be okay. /if a plane were to leave Los Angeles heading to Londo and the pilot's compass were off by .1 degree. By the time he got where he thought he was going he would be over 3000 miles off-course. The slightest character flaw has a devestating affect on this model.
3 Other-directed: Young people this culture mostely applies to you. In this culture you are not motivated by tradition and you are not motivated by the collective moral compass. Rather you are guided solely by the influence of peers or "others". Why do you dress the way you dress and speak the way you speak and act the way you act. It's because you are out to impress somebody whom you think is cool. When I was in High School there were kids who said they wanted to be different and so they watched MTV to find out what different was and then mimicked that and they all became different together. The problem here, is no character is formed. And that is the primary problem plaguing our young people today is the absolute void of character developing opportunities.
- So why do I bring all of this up? Quite frankly because I think we are at an imperative impass in the character of Christians today - in other words, it's not there and we deny that there is anything wrong. But our first step is understanding what influences have been acting on us, then we can see where we need to change.
- As I said, true godly character is shown greatly in the life of Daniel and his friends; and here today we can see that there is no character apart from the absolute dependence upon God. He is the establisher of tradition that we should follow, He is the moral compass we should be tuned too, and He is certainly the "other" we should seek to satisfy. And that is exactly what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego realized as they did not allow society to errode their values, rather they remembered these three qualities of godly character:
Godly Character is Steadfast (v. 12)
- Character must be immovable, rigid, fixed.
- Culture is going to tell you that righteousness is relative but God's truth is not relative, it's absolute. It's definite.
- Are you grounded enough in your character that despite the pressure of society around you are you going to stand up for God and show people that you believe and trust Him?
Godly Character is Sincere (v. 16)
- Are you in a place in your life where you feel like you have to defend or justify everything? Well I believe in God, but I don't believe the entire Bible. I act the way I act because it is who I am and you can't change who you are. These are all excuses we use to comfort us and to rationalize why we are not honest with each other and especially with God.
- Simplicity of response: I don't care what's been said, I don't need to tell you anything. You've seen our life, you've seen the way act in and out of the public eye. We don't need a defense. read matt.5.37
Godly Character is Secure (vv.17-18)
- The result again of godly character is people are touched by Him (vv. 28)