And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

There is an idea that a country needs “Christian values” to please God. I think it’s much more accurate to say that there is a certain segment of the Christian population that would be pleased if their neighbors conveniently acted and believed the same way they did.

We should take care when we cheer for Christian values (a broad and unspecified term) because it could be to the exclusion of meaningful faith. We know that we can’t please God simply by being culturally Christian.

The Sadducees, the sect associated with the priestly class at the time of Jesus, were highly religiously conservative, that is to say they only accepted the Torah. Refusing to go outside the first five books of the Bible meant that they rejected the resurrection and other Spiritual concepts outlined in the rest of the Old Testament. They were keepers of the Jewish culture in many ways, champions of the status quo but they were not faithful.

The Pharisees, contrary to that, were cultural reformers who wanted to use the whole Bible. A much more widespread and diverse group of Jewish people, they adopted the rhetorical flourishes of their day while going back to Scripture to constantly improve their understanding of God’s will. Despite all of that, they were not all able to get past their cultural understandings of who the Messiah was supposed to be and accept who he really was. In the end, only a few of them had faith in Jesus and the One who sent him.

Beware of cries for Christian values. If we don’t have our own culture in check, we will fall prey to the lack of faith that prevents us from seeing the path God wants to open for us, narrow as it will be.

Ethan Kirl