We Are the World

  A few years ago the U.S. Coast Guard picked up a boatload of Chinese refugees. As the cutter approached, the Chinese called out: "MTV!" It was the only English word they knew. It's a sobering example of how American popular culture—the good, the bad, and the ugly—is influencing the entire world. This fact was brought home to me a few days ago when the BreakPoint staff and I had the privilege of hosting one of the leading Christians in South Africa and a great worker in bringing about racial reconciliation there: Michael Cassidy. The battle against apartheid was won in 1994, Cassidy says, but afterward, there was more work to do than ever. The reason was that South African Christians were so consumed by fighting apartheid, they neglected other cultural issues and failed to develop a full-orbed Christian worldview. Into the vacuum came a massive invasion of western secular culture: movies, popular music, books, and television. As a result, South Africans, who are traditionally Christian, became morally liberal on issues like abortion and euthanasia. The story Cassidy tells ought to be a wake-up call for Western Christians. Historically, the great cultures of the world were isolated from one another. They maintained their distinctive character. But technology has shattered that isolation, and today the battle being fought in the world is not so much between East and West as it is between a biblical view of life and various anti-biblical views. This is why another African leader told me that the church in her country was greatly concerned about postmodernism, and she was distributing BreakPoint commentaries on the subject. I was surprised. How could an academic philosophy in America affect Africa? She explained that postmodernism—the idea that societies break down into groups of aggrieved classes—was encouraging tribalism, and the local church had not been able to present a coherent response. So a battle waged on American campuses is having an impact even in the remotest regions of Africa. In short, we live in a global village; modern technology has created a worldwide cultural battlefield. And the battlelines are being drawn not along the historic lines of different religions and cultures, but between competing worldviews—the same ones at war in American culture. As we argue for truth in the public square, we must remember that we are not just attempting to bring righteousness to our own land. We are fighting a battle that has an impact around the world. This makes it all the more crucial for Christians to understand and articulate a biblical worldview, to debate issues in public life, to bring righteousness to bear in America. For when we do, we affect the whole world. People everywhere, from Johannesburg to Beijing, are looking to you and me to set cultural standards in America. It is a sobering reminder of how important it is for us to stay at our posts, even at a time when many Christians are urging us to turn away from the culture and build the church. We must not give in to a Christian isolationism. To do so would be not only to abandon our own culture, but also to abandon those around the world who are depending on us.


Chuck Colson


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