Ethos is defined as the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society;

Understanding the definition of ethos, we can see that our family has an ethos, our workplace has an ethos, our schools have an ethos, our church has an ethos, our society has an ethos, and we as individuals have an ethos as well. In an ideal environment all of these groups would have similar characteristics and would function well together but in reality, sometimes they function quite differently and contrary to each other. The question I pose today is where do we as individuals stand in these ever-changing environments? Do we conform to the pattern of this world or do we stay true to what we know is right? Do we even know what is right?

The bible speaks to us about what God deems right and wrong, and while we Amen in the ethos of our church culture, we also Amen in the ethos of our work and home environment, even when the two don’t always intersect. This confusion stagnates our growth, compromises our beliefs and ultimately destroys our soul.

It is then no wonder that people laugh at followers of Christ and don’t follow Christ because of us. We set fire to an abortion clinic rather than get on our knees and pray, or better yet, help fund single mothers, and yet when it’s our unmarried daughter who is pregnant suddenly abortion is a possibility. We rant about the sin of homosexuality, all the while having sex outside the confines of marriage. We cry out against same sex marriage, yet do not uphold the sanctity of marriage simply by staying married. What we say and what we do don’t match up and we aren’t hiding it well.

When we decide that our ethos is going to take on the character and culture of Christ, there will inevitably be a consistency in the culture in which we live. When we decide that love is the banner under which we live, and that there is no room for anything else, our culture will change. Not without a fight, because it’s never as easy as it seems. Our home, our desk or our hammer, our opinions, can and will truly serve God once that decision has been made. We may be the only ones in our environment who walk it out but walk it out anyway. Eventually, someone will notice. The things of the world that easily ensnare us will no longer have a hold on us. Ethos describes our code of conduct. It refers not only to our community but our individuality as well and if we want things to change it must begin within ourselves first.

The church I serve in requires leadership to read and grow and learn. It’s not enough to hear a sermon preached on Sunday, we are challenged to find out if our Pastor was telling the truth. The most consistent comment I hear from members is that they have learned more in the time they have spent with us than in their entire walk as Christians. Why? Is it because we’re so dynamic as teachers? Not even close. The reason is that we give them the responsibility to work out their own salvation on their terms. They do not get invited to form the ethos of our church if they are not already breathing, eating, and living our belief system. Forget faking it, it comes out in the end.

My challenge to you today is study out your environment. What do the things you allow in your home say about your belief in God? Are you consistently the same person at work, home, with friends, at church? Do you dictate the ethos with your behavior or do you allow the ethos to dictate your behavior?

One thought on “Ethos

  1. One of the truths I feel we still miss in our ethos as believers is that of living out the sin/grace dynamic. It seems we require such a clean exterior of each other all the while forgetting no one has arrived—and probably won’t this side of glorification. While I certainly don’t excuse those who sin whatever their reasons, I also desire in the church leadership a sense of the forgiveness of Christ for those who are growing in His ethic (another word form for ethos).

    What if we saw a famous pastor blunder and heard humility and repentance come out of his or her mouth?

    What would happen if the church, instead of gasping in chagrin, gathered around that leader and rebuilt their hearts up in the love and grace of Jesus?

    What would our church (I mean the people not the buildings) be like if everyone was taught that grace was not an excuse or get out of jail free card for sin but a means of giving us time to grow reconciled to God?

    What if we decided that sin wasn’t the only enemy but our own self-righteous and prejudiced attitudes did more harm to the gospel than anything else?

    Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost to Him through sin. The original sin in question was eating a piece of fruit. Weighing out our current state of what we call “sin” by comparison is like calling off white black and our black gray. The depths of evil which exist today were only realized by Adam and Eve in the children of Cain. I don’t think they could even imagine in the beginning how bad people could get because their sin was so “innocent” by comparison.

    I want to see the church redeem sinners through the power of Christ more than anything else. What I see, however, shows me a community either bent on feeling good about itself or disguising its own need for Jesus through legalistic rituals and social-Christian traditions. Most of what we call “righteousness” is not what God meant by it in the Bible but an interpretation by one person or another. They will know we are His disciples if we have (true) love for one another—the love He showed. At the same time, we must be seen to be ever growing in our Master’s ethos and stop worrying about being perfect examples of it, for we never will.

    The best example of message of the gospel is a sinner redeemed and constantly growing in Christ. This means he or she will make mannnnnny mistakes in becoming like Him, but that’s where grace comes in. We don’t sin so grace will abound, but when we sin grace is enough.

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