I have been thinking about the culture in which I live, and how do I interact with it as a follower of Jesus Christ.
To begin, we need to ask the question; What is culture?
In an article about culture, Resurgence, now Mark Driscoll, defines culture as;
Culture is the shared beliefs, behaviors, and artifacts of a particular group of people who share a common language.
The article goes on to say that everything is culture. Everything we do (activity) and make (artifact) is culture. The way we dress, talk, where we live, everything is a part of the culture in which we find ourselves.
The next question I asked is; What is the church doing amidst it’s particular culture.
I am talking about the church as a whole (the movement of Jesus Christ) and the church around the corner (faith community, making disciples and reaching the world with the Gospel). We often hear stories of the “good ol’ days” in which everything shut down on Sundays and now it seems that the church shuts down to follow a school calendar or summer vacations. What happened to the church! What happened to the influence? Have we replaced God with comfort? Have we replaced God with our Calendars?
In John 17, Jesus prays for the disciples and future believers.
(Read John 17)
In His prayer Jesus pleads for the Father to protect them, the disciples who are in the world. We have all heard the term “in the world but not of it”, right? If we are honest, we are all impacted by the culture around us.
I really enjoy all types of media, anything from music to movies to books to smart phones and gadgets of all sorts, and at times they consume me. The culture in which I live says, “get that new phone, or gadget” because without it you wont feel like your ahead of the information game. I REALLY enjoyed the TV show LOST! If I miss the latest episode, that’s OK because I have a DVR so I can watch it later. The technology of western culture is awesome, yet it comes with a price. I like most, spend so much time living within the culture, I forget about Jesus and His prayer, that though I am in the world, I am not to be of the world. I am an alien in a foreign land and yet this foreign land has become a place in which I get lost in the shuffle of culture. I, at times forget the Gospel. So what are we as Christians supposed to do?
Are we to be separatists? Are believers supposed to be invisible in our cultures? NO, on the contrary, Scripture gives us a mandate to interact with culture but not to be consumed by it.
Colossians 2:16-17: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Paul here, is warning the church of the Colossians about trading their freedom in Christ for a set of man-made rules and rituals. This was the culture in which they found themselves in, passed down through the Old Testamental times to then. Yet, their reality is only found in Christ! Nothing has changed for us today, our reality is not in the culture in which we find ourselves, no, our reality is ONLY found in the One who gave His life as a sacrifice so that we can have freedom in HIM!
Colossians also says in chapter 1:15-20, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
3 things for the church:
- Understand and recognize that we all live in a particular culture where we are.
- We are mandated to Share The Gospel, and make disciples in our culture. (Matthew 28:16-20)
- Our efforts are to bring Glory to God and not ourselves.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Psalms 115:1