In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. None of his court magicians or enchanters could tell him the dream or interpret it. The king insisted repeatedly that he would not trust any of his wise men to interpret the dream unless they first tell him what the dream was. One of these wise men responds, "The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh" (Dan. 2:11).
This reaction highlights a basic difference between the faith of the Christian and whatever it is that the pagan or unbeliever trusts in. The assumption of the world is that if there is a god, he is far away and unknowable. Unbelief says the dwelling of the gods "is not with flesh." God cannot be known or touched. God is not here with us in the flesh, because he is too great to be among us mere mortals, so the thinking goes.
We know differently. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was able to see and interpret the dream. This is because God the Holy Spirit was dwelling within Daniel. For us we know that in fact God does dwell with flesh, namely in the flesh of Jesus Christ, who is truly man and truly God. Jesus is God incarnate, literally God in the flesh. Our God has a body. A body that was born, suffered, died, and was buried. A body that rose victorious over death. And Jesus still has His body. He is still fully God and fully human, and He is in all places with His body.
As Christians we know that God's dwelling is with flesh, it is with us. Moreover, our own bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. That is, God dwells in each of us, so that we may be witnesses to the saving works of Christ in our words and actions. Thanks be to God.
Think for a minute about all the images you see on a daily basis. They could be still images or moving images (video). It's estimated that the average person sees up to 10,000 ads a day, double the 2007 number and up to 20 times more than we saw in the 70's. And that's just ads, the images we usually try to ignore! Then there's social media pictures, and memes, and videos. We see images on TV and in newspapers and books. People show us images on their phones, and then there's all the images we intentionally seek out on the internet for better or worse.
Now think about Jesus' day. There were very few "images" to even see. Statues or paintings of various Roman gods perhaps, but no images that were exact representations of actual things. And yet Jesus says in Luke 11:34, "Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness." Much evil starts with the eyes. David's adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband started with his eyes (2 Sam 11:2). What we see with our eyes can lead to jealousy, envy, and covetousness. In the garden of Eden, when Eve saw that the tree was good for food and Satan promised that their (spiritual) eyes would be opened, Adam and Eve ate the fruit.
Instead of subjecting our eyes to things that will lead us astray, we should focus our eyes (physical and spiritual) on the things of God. "I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless" (Ps. 101:3). "I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways" (Ps 119:15) "The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season" (Ps. 145:15). Or as the writer the Hebrews says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). When the Hebrews grumbled against God in the desert and the Lord sent serpents to bite them, He offered salvation through Moses. Moses built a bronze serpent on a pole, "if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live" (Num 21:9). So, we look to Jesus raised up on the cross and risen from the dead, so that we too might live.
You've no doubt heard the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." According to the Dictionary of Idiomatic English Phrases, this is "an ancient proverb recommending prudence in behaviour. We must adapt ourselves to the prejudices and customs of others." Evidently, this saying dates all the way back to the 300's AD. The story goes that St. Augustine and his mother were planning to visit Rome. The Christians there fasted on Saturday. This was not the practice in Milan where Augustine lived. Augustine consulted his mentor St. Ambrose who told him, "When I am here (in Milan) I do not fast on Saturday, when in Rome I do fast on Saturday." This appears to have given rise to the saying, "When in Rome do as the Romans do."
The custom of fasting on Saturday is what we would call an indifferent matter. It was a cultural practice, a particular religious discipline that in one place Christians fasted on Saturday while in another place they didn't. It makes sense to conform to a particular culture when you're an outsider regarding indifferent matters. You may notice this when you visit other churches while travelling. Even amongst traditional, liturgical, LC–MS churches you will see some variations in practice.
A problem arises when this mindset is taken too far. There are many practices that our culture promotes of which we should be wary because they are not indifferent. They run contrary to God's clear word. Sometimes dangerous cultural practices or mindsets finagle their way into the church or the lives of individual Christians. Some examples include: false definitions of marriage, the status of an unborn baby, losing ourselves in entertainment, living together before marriage, knowing more about our favorite sports team than the Bible, relying more on politcians than the Lord, or just generally wanting the church to look more like the world.
Now define this world as "Rome." We will not live in Rome forever. Spending too much time learning how to live in Rome, puts our eternal destiny in danger. We must be wary of everything the culture promotes as "good", yet we have the freedom, the obligation, to live in this world with our neighbors shining the light of God's love as we do so. You are a citizen of heaven living in Rome.