When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.
Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations--these that remain among you--and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you.
Annihilation is total destruction--as of a culture. Assimilation is total absorption--as into a culture. The children of Israel did one at God's Command and the other against It.
To consider that the God of consuming love could order the annihilation of a culture is beyond human understanding--because He gave us brains to think and hearts to feel. Neither brains nor hearts are comfortable with this idea.
Therefore, He offers us a third option. It's a 'man'ual override: faith. We engage the supernatural gear of faith. Because faith is a choice. We can choose to believe in God's perfect justice and goodness--or not.* As for me and my house, we choose to believe.
An easier idea to consider is assimilation, where God's children blend into existing cultures--and become like them. In fact, it happens all the time--perhaps most of all... today. God's response? 'Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God' (James 4:4).
Therefore, 'Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him' (1 John 2:15).
History bears witness to this truth: Even the wisest man in the world (Solomon, the son of David), could not resist the temptation to worship foreign gods when they were presented to him by his wives.** Are we wiser than he?
So where does this realization leave actors, models and talent for Christ heading to the hills of Hollywood? Do we annihilate? Do we assimilate? Or do we stay home? We do none of these things, because Jesus did none of these things. He changed the terms of engagement. How? By His Word and by the Cross.
1) We do not destroy. We love. 'But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you' (Luke 6:27-28). We 'Seek peace and pursue it' (Psalm 34:14).
2) We do not conform to this culture. We lead it. 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven' (Matthew 5:16).
3) We do not stay huddled in our churches. 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature' (Mark 16:15). 'Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations' (Matthew 28:19).
To Be Continued...
* Christian Apologetics answer to the total destruction commanded by God in the Old Testament: http://carm.org/god-of-old-testament-a-monster
** Jesus, the Man, is and was wiser than Solomon. Other than He, no wiser man has been portrayed on Earth. Consider the cause of Solomon's corruption: 'For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David' (1 Kings 11:4).
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Field of Dreams series.