Living as a Christian in a Post-Christian World: Discernment
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)
It is increasingly difficult to live the life of Christ in the 21st century. Not to idealize a certain era or a previous generations, but I can personally attest that the world of my childhood was dramatically different from the world of today. This observation is all the more interesting, remarkable and self-evident when the technological changes are considered. Although I touch on the implications or effects of technology, the focus in this article is on Christ, His Teachings, His values, and the moral and the spiritual life that He commanded us to live. I focus on His Church in our lives, on living a life of Christ in the nuclear family, the domestic church (Morelli, 2009), and the interiorization of Christ which we are all called by our Baptism to attain so that we may “become partakers of the Divine Nature.” (2 Pt 1:4)
The generational contrast alluded to above dawned on me after watching the evening news as is my custom, while preparing dinner. In the area where I live, a celebrity gossip program, Thirty Mile Zone (TMZ), comes on immediately after the news. I usually change the station before this program comes on, but this particular evening I was engaged in another task, and in just the few minutes I saw of the program, I heard mentioned and ‘lionized’ a variety of manifestly un-Christ-like behaviors, among them promiscuity, unfaithfulness, and taking advantage of others for various gains.
I am not being unrealistic about the brokenness that occurs and will continue to occur in every generation until Christ’s second coming. People were abused, beaten up, murdered, raped and robbed in the 1950s when I was growing up probably as much as they are now. Adultery, fraud, extortion, fornication and sexual promiscuousness have most likely existed since the first sin of our ancestral parents. Yet the stark difference between past tims and the present generation is that we did not have a communication and cyber-technology industry to so extensively report on these offenses and promote deviant activities. In past generations one had to go out of his or her way to be exposed to or put oneself in harm’s way. In today’s society exposure to crime and sin is just a mouse click away or pops up on prime-time television as in my TMZ experience.
Grace builds on nature
The foundation of the synergy of the cooperation of man with God is recorded in the book of Genesis: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over all the earth ...” (Gen 1:26). McGuckin (2004) noted that several Greek Fathers defined the term image as “mankind's dominion over the created order.” St. Maximus the Confessor, for example, understood intellect as an attribute of the image of God in man. “Naturally endowed with the holiness of the Divine Image, the intelligence urges the soul to conform itself by its own free choice to the divine likeness” (Philokalia II). Based on St. Maximus’ understanding that grace builds on nature and that we, made in God’s image, are required to use our intelligence in healing our infirmities and diseases, this essay presents an overview of the behavioral research that demonstrates that the intellect can be used to foster an understanding of how the synergy between mankind and God can occur (Morelli, 2006). I focus specifically on the influence of modeling―whether live or media―in prompting and shaping behavior (Morelli, 2009c) and point out the moral and spiritual implications for those living in this day and age.
Knowing the power of modeling whether live or media, in prompting and shaping behavior (Morelli, 2009c), I immediately recognized the moral and spiritual implications for those living in this day and age.
To read this study in full, please download the attached PDF file.