For Christ-followers, we may like to think our faith is the sole influence on our values, but other factors (such as modernity, history, culture, and nationality, to mention a few) influence our values as well.
Some of this is okay (right and good), since we are meant to live in the present while working for the Eternal Kingdom, however what often ends up happening is a distortion of the values Christ calls us towards.
Core values for the faithful can be found in the summary of the blessed: the poor in spirit, mourners, meek, hungry, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, the persecuted (Matthew 5:2-11). The values of the world are often the opposite.
So, as we live in the world presently, we must be light in the world by embracing the values of Christ and following His pattern and ways.
It is right and good to always ask ourselves in prayer and mediation what our values truly are and what they should truly be. Where do our personal values align with the values of Christ our Lord? Where do they differ? Where do worldly values have more of a grip on us than Christ’s?
This was a key protest of the Reformation. Martin Luther and others observed that the values of the church had become so distorted by the values of the world. The core values found in the summary of the blessed may have been said in some pulpits, but were not lived out by the church as a whole. The Reformation sought to re-center the values of the church towards the values of the Eternal Kingdom.
Now, the church today has, in many ways, become influenced by values separate than the simple, humble values of Christ. National values, capitalism values, socialist values, conservative values, liberal values, business values, family values, philanthropic values (the list goes on) have infiltrated our churches and distorted eternal truths. While there may be some redeemable aspects of these values, accepting them fully at face value, or rallying our churches around them, takes us off the narrow path of following Christ.
Today and everyday we, and our churches, must re-center ourselves on the values of Christ and His Eternal Kingdom, leaning on the grace of God and relying on the leading of the Spirit in our hearts, mind, and actions.