“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!” —Luke 1:30
If Jesus were born today, what city do you think He would come from? Maybe Jerusalem, Rome, London, Paris, or New York would come to mind. We wouldn’t expect Jesus to come from Buttonwillow or Pumpkin Patch. Or how about this? Jesus of Las Vegas. That has a negative connotation, doesn’t it?
When people of Jesus’ day identified Him as “Jesus of Nazareth,” that is how it was perceived. There was a negative connotation. Yet in that ungodly place lived a godly young woman named Mary, who proved that you can live a holy life in an unholy place.
In his second epistle, Peter described the world’s effect on two believers. Both lived in wicked cultures, yet one thrived while the other didn’t.
First there was Noah. Things were so corrupt when he was alive that God was sorry that He had made man and was ready to judge the earth. Yet in the midst of this dark time Noah “found favor with the Lord” (Genesis 6:8) because he walked with God. He was a godly man who lived in an ungodly place, yet he never compromised.
Then there was Lot, who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah. In contrast to Noah, Lot was sort of worn down. He didn’t approve of what the people were doing, but he didn’t do anything to change it. Scripture says that he was living among them, torturing his righteous soul every day with what he saw and heard by their unlawful and wicked deeds. He lived a compromised life. And when the angel of the Lord came to deliver him from Sodom, he left reluctantly.
Which one of these men do you relate to: Noah or Lot? Or to put it another way, are you changing the culture, or is the culture changing you?