Brother Richie Juatco: The meaning of the word “woke” has gone through somewhat of an evolution in the past few years. The word has become mainstream and people searching the Internet for its meaning have skyrocketed. It has become somewhat of a phenomenon that has actually formed a culture—woke culture. Hi, I’m Brother Richie Juatco, and with me here in our studios in San Francisco, is Brother Joe Velasquez. Hi, Brother Joe.
Brother Joe Velasquez: Hi, Brother Richie. Now although the meaning of woke culture continues to morph and evolve, depending on who is defining it, it’s widely understood as social justice advocates fighting or standing up against injustice and/or discrimination.
Brother Richie: Now we do agree that it’s important to fight or stand up against injustice, but the manner of doing so and standing our ground is something that we, as Christians in the Christian culture, we want to be careful about.
Brother Joe: That’s right, Brother Richie, and we know that injustices and discriminations are not only issues of the modern times, but have been happening all throughout history. So the best ways for us to properly deal with such prejudices are to follow the examples recorded in the Bible. So, if so-called woke culture has its particular ways of fighting or standing up against injustices, would there be a problem or conflict for a genuine Christian to be part of that culture? Can one be a “woke” Christian, Brother Richie?
Brother Richie: Now, that’s a very good question, Brother Joe. We turn to the Christians written in the Bible since they are recorded for us to use as examples. When it comes to real or genuine Christians, there should be no arguing that the apostles are the standard since they truly did follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, we have to understand, from a regional standpoint the apostles were looked down on as Galileans. Not only were they discriminated against because of where they were from but also their status in life, it was not viewed highly. As fishermen they were described in Acts 4:13 as “ordinary men of no education.”
Brother Joe: And so, knowing all this, how did they handle the discrimination and injustices they experienced from the Jewish council at the time because of their beliefs, Brother Richie?
Brother Richie: Brother Joe, for the answer, we’re going to turn to the book of Acts, chapter 5, and we’ll read from verse 40-42. This is what it says:
And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
[Acts 5:40-42 New King James Version]
Brother Richie: So, Brother Joe, here we can see that the Jewish council, they did not share the beliefs of the apostles, the council actually systemically threatened and physically beat them. They were mistreated and punished unfairly for their belief, but we should notice that they did not stir up any violent protests or seek to change the government, basing any grievances on their personal qualities. They did not “return the favor” because they were tired of being bullied, so then thought of bullying the bully. How is it that they fought the injustice and stand their ground? Instead, what they continued focusing on as the greatest good to do for humankind was to continue teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Brother Joe: So, this is how real Christians handle injustices especially when it comes to the beliefs and faith that they have. Although it might be understandable why different people or groups of people react or respond to being treated unfairly, just because a response can be explained and understood does not make it right.
Brother Richie: But some might be wondering, Brother Joe, “why not?” Why can’t they come up with their own way of responding and it also be right? Why didn’t the apostles…why didn’t they come up with their own right way?
Brother Joe: Well, Brother Richie, the Apostle Paul explains, here, in Philippians 3:9, and this is what is stated:
and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
[Philippians 3:9 New King James Version]
Brother Joe: Here, Apostle Paul makes clear that he does not have his “own righteousness”–he is not coming up with his way of right or wrong.
Brother Richie: Well, Brother Joe, how then does he, and other genuine Christians, determine right from wrong? Whose righteousness is used as a basis?
Brother Joe: Well, Brother Richie, he clarified that it is “the righteousness which is from God.” Therefore it is God, His words or laws written in the Bible, that determines what is right and what is wrong. It is not society, governments, trends, or anything else that true Christians use as a basis to act or react.
Brother Richie: Now, this is really important to understand. Because of technology and modern advancements available in spreading and sharing ideas, it can be very easy to get caught up in the different ideas or ideologies and not even realize that the basis one uses to determine right from wrong is no longer God’s words. This brings us back to the “woke” culture that we were discussing earlier. That culture has its own way of thinking, it has its own way of responding to conflicts, it has its own way of defining or interpreting situations.
Brother Joe: Well, Brother Richie, it’s not only that! We can also see how some feel pressured to join or share those ideas because society is aggressively defining what they are doing or saying.
Brother Richie: Very true, Brother Joe! We often see that in social media that “If you say or do this…this is what that means” or “If you don’t say or don’t do this… well then, that is what that means.” Society now really is aggressive in trying to define things the way that they think is right and wrong.
Brother Joe: Why though, should we not be surprised that these things are happening?
Brother Richie: Brother Joe, we can read the warning of the Bible, here in II Timothy, we’ll read chapter 3, and we’ll read what is recorded in 1-5. This is what we can read, 3:1-5, it says:
But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce. People will be self-centered lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families. They will be ungrateful and ungodly. They will become addicted to hateful and malicious slander. Slaves to their desires, they will be ferocious, belligerent haters of what is good and right. With brutal treachery, they will act without restraint, bigoted and wrapped in clouds of their conceit. They will find their delight in the pleasures of this world more than the pleasures of the loving God. They may pretend to have a respect for God, but in reality they want nothing to do with God’s power. Stay away from people like these!
[II Timothy 3:1-5 The Passion Translation]
Brother Richie: What we just read is a warning. We know this because it starts off by saying “you need to be aware.” The Bible forewarned, as we read, that “the culture of society will become extremely fierce.” Isn’t what was said, exactly what is happening? Notice the time frame, it says: “in the final days.” This shows that according to the Bible we are currently living in the final days. This is also why we shouldn’t be surprised at all that all these things are happening. People of different societies, they no longer want to just be left alone to do as they please but they have become aggressive or “extremely fierce” in pressuring others to join them. What else are we witnessing? “People [have become] self-centered, lovers of themselves and obsessed with money”. Again, this is evident when we see people today obsessed with social media and openly subscribing to philosophies and mentalities of “just do you,” “just look out for number one,” “don’t let anyone tell you what to do.”
Brother Joe: That’s right, Brother Richie, and you know, the Bible also warned that people “will become addicted to hateful and malicious slander.” And this is not hard to see, especially with people being able to post or comment anonymously. There really are people that seek out conflict and have no problem hating other people or groups of people. And to make themselves feel good they look for others to agree with them, thinking that if they get more “likes” or have other anonymous people supporting them, then that would somehow justify their wrong beliefs.
Brother Richie: You know, one of the sad situations that are unfortunately also happening is that some people who say they are Christians, have become more focused on making sure they “stay woke.” The woke culture has for some become more important. It has become what guides their thoughts and decision making, almost like a religion.
Brother Joe: Now, would that be a conflict of interest for a genuine Christian to be part of today’s “woke” culture? Like we asked earlier, can one be a “woke” Christian, Brother Richie?
Brother Richie: Well, you know, Brother Joe, the way it’s being defined today and the way that people who are identifying with that culture, the way that they are acting, it’s really not fitting for real Christians.
Brother Joe: Now, why is woke culture not fitting for real Christians?
Brother Richie: We can read the reason why, here in what’s recorded in I Corinthians, we’ll read chapter 6:9-11. This is what it says:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
[I Corinthians 6:9-11 New King James Version]
Brother Richie: Today’s woke culture is not fitting for real Christians because they have a different belief and support very different (and sometimes opposite) actions. In the verse that we read, Apostle Paul describes the unrighteous acts that would disqualify a person from inheriting the kingdom of God. Thus, a real Christian or a true member of the Church Of Christ should not do those things mentioned, but they should not support people who are actively trying to fight to do those things. There are many today who say that they are “woke” and, in their opinion, on the side of justice and righteousness, but the beliefs they proclaim and the actions that they support are what the Bible calls unrighteous.
Brother Joe: And so, Brother Richie, what should true Christians do if they see the injustice and prejudices being fought by woke culture? Well, as true Christians don’t we also have the obligation to stand up against the oppression of others and discrimination?
Brother Richie: We do, Brother Joe! And as true Christians we should stand against oppression while remaining in the Christian culture and following God’s words.
Brother Joe: Brother Richie, some might be wondering how can that fight against racial and social injustice be done? How is focusing on God’s words a better, more effective alternative of fighting racism or social prejudice than actually fighting racist people?
Brother Richie: That is a great question. Let’s find out where the solution is to racial and social injustice or prejudice? We can read what is recorded in Galatians 3:27-29. Here, it says:
You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.
[Galatians 3:27-29 Good News Translation]
Brother Richie: The solution to racism and social injustice, as we read, is to be in “union with Christ.”
Brother Joe: Now, why is being in “union with Christ” the solution to all these problems?
Brother Richie: Because, Brother Joe, being in “union with Christ” there is no difference! There is no difference between race, ethnicity, economic class, social status, or gender. The Bible states, “you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.” So people need to focus on and make sure to be in union with Christ because there they are one, which is the real solution to society’s inequality and unjust treatment of different people.
Brother Joe: And so, Brother Richie, this is the reason why despite all the racial social issues that continue to increase and polarize society, we here inside the Church Of Christ continue to focus on and share with everyone the teachings and council of what is written in the Bible in order to learn how to be in union with Christ, just like the apostles did.
Brother Richie: Now although, Brother Joe, we read we need to be “baptized in union with Christ,” some might be wondering what exactly does that mean? Because maybe they have been baptized already or have had multiple baptisms in multiple churches or religious organizations. So, we want to know, where should a person be baptized in order to really have union with Christ so that he or she won’t need to worry about what race they are or if they’re rich or poor?
Brother Joe: Well, for the answer to that question, Brother Richie, let’s turn here, to the Bible, in I Corinthians 12:13, and this is what we can read:
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
[I Corinthians 12:13 New King James Version]
Brother Joe: Now, according to the Bible, in order to be in union with Christ a person needs to be “baptized into [His] one body”. Notice that there is no discrimination of who will be able to enter in union or be baptized. The Bible says “whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free”.
Brother Richie: Now, Brother Joe, just for the sake of clarity, what is the body of Christ that people need to be baptized into? Because obviously it’s not referring to His physical body, but there are some who believe that all the multiple churches existing today make up the biblical body of Christ. So we pose this question to avoid making the mistake of thinking we’re in union with Christ but that is not actually the case. So, Brother Joe, what is the body of Christ?
Brother Joe: Well, let’s find out here, the answer, Brother Richie, in Ephesians 5:23:
For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body.
[Ephesians 5:23 Today’s English Version]
Brother Joe: The Bible clarifies that the one body of Christ is not made up of multiple churches, but rather it is His one singular Church. Because the one biblical Church is considered as the body of Christ, it’s easy to understand why it is called the Church Of Christ. The Church Of Christ is what is in union with Christ because it is His body and it is here that the Bible gives a solution to not only problems of discrimination or oppression but to the eminent danger coming on Judgment Day.
Brother Richie: Now, as we mentioned earlier, this is the reason why we here inside the Church Of Christ continue to exert so much effort to bring you programs like this especially as society grows more aggressive and fierce in diverting our attention from the truth written in the Bible
For the members of the genuine Church Of Christ, we are always being reminded that we “need to be aware” of the time we are living in and to keep our focus not on the cultures developed by society, but on the God’s words that we use as our guide.
Brother Joe: On behalf of all of us here at The Message, we would like to thank you for joining us today in our study of God’s message.
Brother Richie: We hope that you will continue to watch this and the other programs of the Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church Of Christ. Before we go, though, please join us for a short prayer.
Our Heavenly Father,
We are so very grateful that we were able to once again hear and study Your words, we thank You for the guidance that You give us through Your teachings written in the Holy Scriptures, we praise You, our God, and we truly do worship Your most Holy Name.
We thank You for helping us be aware of the things that are happening during our time, we can see truly how Your words have fulfillment, the culture of society around us, it really is very fierce and aggressive, but we thank You also for protecting us, helping us know how to handle the different injustices and prejudices that are happening today, but handle them the right way by always focusing on Your instructions to us. We ask that You please allow this message of Yours to reach those that are truly looking for the truth, have mercy on them, Dear God, give them a way that they can be part of the biblical Church Of Christ, that here we are all one, there is no difference between any, Dear God, we are all loved and cared for by You.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, we also approach You. We thank You for Your intercession. We ask that You please continue to bring us close to God, and show us how to handle our life by following the example that You left for us.
We thank You, once again, our Father. Please bless the Church Administration that You have placed to guide and protect us and always teach us Your words, help us to always remain united, and so that all of us can remain focused on always following Your holy words. This is what we ask and pray for through the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Christian Media: Where Truth Meets You
Christian Media: Where Truth Meets You
Christian Media: Where Truth Meets You
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