Monday, December 06, 2010

How Christians Can Relate to Our Culture

Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes
For any thoughtful Christian that wants to make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and society, there needs to be given serious consideration to how we will relate to the broader, non-Christian culture in which most people live.

We can seek to live our lives no different than non-Christians and blend right in with everyone else.  We can view ourselves as being in a war with the culture (with Christians being the good guys and everybody else the bad.)  Or we can take a different approach where we seek to engage the culture while maintaining our distinctiveness as followers of the Nazarene carpenter.

Pastor Mark Driscoll offers a compelling perspective on this topic in an article posted to his blog, entitled "Why Christians Go Postal Over Facebook, Jay-Z, Yoga, Avatar, and Culture in General."  I encourage you to read the whole post but here's a highlight
"Engaging culture requires discernment by God’s people to filter all of the cultures they encounter, Christian and non-Christian, through a biblical and theological grid in order to cling to that which is good and reject that which is evil. As we engage culture (watching films and television, listening to music, reading books, shopping at stores, and so on), we must do so as theologians and missionaries filled with wisdom and discernment, seeking to better grasp life in our culture. We do this so we can begin the transforming work of the gospel in our culture by contextualizing the good news of Jesus. Not compromising. Not changing. Contextualizing.
Practically, this means doing what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22–23, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” The truth is that every ministry is contextualized, the only difference is to which culture and which year of that culture. Everything from pews to chairs, sound systems, projectors, suits, and a printed Bible in the English language are very recent missiogical contextualizations in light of the two thousand years of Christianity."
As Driscoll shares in his post, it is up to us to discern which elements of our culture we are to 1) Receive; 2) Reject; or 3) Redeem. Every culture on earth has things that are given by God and areas that are intrinsically evil.  There are also those aspects that were once good but have become corrupted over time. The thoughtful missionary understands the difference.

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