Believers are supposed to be change-agents in their culture. The Bible calls it being salt and light. Both of these things change their surroundings. The reason I bring this up is I seem to keep having this converstaion in one form or another. We wring our hands and complain about the state of our nation and its culture. But the culprit is often in the mirror. Rather than engage and change our culture, we have often (too often!) let it change us. What do we do?
Culture & Mission
One of the amazing things I get to do is see people on short-term mission trips. To use a phrase, I get to see the light come on for them. It’s easy to think ‘mission’ is what we do ‘over there.’ The Aha! moment is when the mission ‘over there’ causes the realization that one’s mission is everywhere!
I ran across a blog post by Marilyn Ehle that addresses this thought. I liked the piece. She makes some good points about how Jesus engaged His culture without taking on His culture. As always, He is our best example of how to bring glory to the Father.
Most of the post is copied below. A link to the full piece is also included. I hope you enjoy the read!
Soli Deo Gloria!
“They are not of the world even as I am not of it.” John 17:16
They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. (The Message)
“She has well defined cheekbones.” – “It was a well defined plan.”
Well defined: we hear the term frequently and take its meaning for granted. After reading Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Jesus’ words, however, perhaps we can search for clarification. To define means to establish the character or essence of a person or thing. Who or what is it that gives definition, meaning to my life? Who describes who or what I should be, what I should look like, what career path I should follow, how much money I should earn, what books I should read?
To watch Jesus walking in the midst of his world—his culture—is to give us a picture of a well defined Christian. He didn’t condemn the culture, he didn’t seek power in the culture and he lived harmoniously in a culture rife with discordance. He lived out the spirit of the message given to Jewish exiles in Jeremiah’s time. Without taking on the character of the culture, Jesus “made himself at home and worked for the country’s welfare” (see Jeremiah 29:4-7, The Message). He was in the world but not of the world.
It was not Jesus’ aim nor desire that we be removed from the world, from the culture in which we find ourselves. He has planted us here to be reflections of his grace and love, to be salt and light to a culture that often doesn’t even know it is thirsty and dark. What if the culture saw in Christ followers such similarity to the Savior that they were stunned into silence? Or perhaps at least stunned into questions? What if our character—our very essence—was so Christ like that we would resemble the tastiest food on a banquet table…observable and deeply desired?
KB: That would certainly be a different looking world, wouldn’t it?