Further Thoughts on Faith & Culture

randomlychad  —  November 8, 2011 — 6 Comments

After yesterday’s post, I thought it prudent to delve a little deeper into the issues surrounding faith and culture in our day and age. Specifically, I want to address the differences I see between a reactionary faith, and a proactive one.

C.S. Lewis (paraphrasing) once said that “the salvation of a single human soul is far more important than the preservation, or production, of all the works of drama/literature in human history.” In my estimation, this is very much in line with what Jesus said about leaving the ninety-and-nine to find the one. This is a kingdom value, and as such all the angels in Heaven rejoice over a lost soul that is found.

I think, however, that we in the church often get this quite wrong; in essence, we go after the ninety-and-nine–and consequently forget the one. Don’t get me wrong: there are indeed wrongs to be righted, injustices to be fought, inequities to redressed. That said, I think we often “do it wrong.”

What do I mean?

We go after the hot button issues–after the culture–and try to change them, change it. We forget that life change, that personal transformation, happens best in the context of a personal relationship. I don’t mean Jesus–I mean us. People won’t to meet him unless we are living winsome lives.

Yes, the trope is true: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

If you are concerned about our culture, about our society as a whole, start with your neighbor. To borrow a phrase from the “green” movement: “Think globally, act locally.” If you want to transform the culture, start with the people, start with a person. Pray that God gives you an opportunity to share your life with someone–warts and all–and in that context, share Jesus.

This is where, I think, organizations such as the American Family Association for instance, are missing it. There’s an agenda there, an axe to grind. It’s always coming out with an issue, or organization, that it’s against. On the one hand, I applaud the Wildmon’s for having the courage of their convictions. That’s altogether too rare these days. On the other, I think the Kingdom of God would be better served if folks knew just what, or Who, the AFA is for.

This to me is the difference between a reactionary faith, and a proactive one. Yes, I’m against sin–but I’m much more for Jesus–and I want you to meet him. Besides, who has been saved, had their life changed from the inside out, by a boycott?

Certainly, if we get a large enough group of believers together, we can impose our collective will on others. But that’s really just a mob mentality, and mere legalism. If there’s anything that I’ve learned from parenting, it’s that I can change my children’s behavior–without changing their hearts. Yes, rules and order, are important. But changed hearts even more so.

I learned something in Celebrate Recovery that transformed my thinking in these matters; namely, we “need to accept this sinful world as it is, as Jesus did, not as we would have it to be.” What this means is that we need to have reasonable expectations regarding the behavior of our unsaved family, friends, loved ones, coworkers. This means we can’t expect them to behave as Christians when they are not.

By extension, this means that it is also quite unreasonable to expect Christian demeanor from a post-Christian society. To do so is to engage in a dangerous “magical” kind of thinking.

Oh, sure, we can retreat into our holy huddles, where everything is serene and peachy keen–while the world goes to hell around us. That is nothing more than a “chrstian” RDF (“reality distortion field”). Remember: salt is well-nigh useless if it’s not sprinkled around.

You, me, I, we are that salt. Let’s not lose our savor by retreating from the world. We need to remain engaged, stay informed, and yet–in our hearts–“be in the world, but not of it.”

I’ll leave you with this:

People don’t want to be our axes for grinding, our grist, notches in our “witnessing belts.” They want to be loved as people. And it is in this context of love that we earn the right to share. Oh, as life does, it gets messy. Make no mistake. But life in this fallen world often does.

But it’s worth it in the end.

What do you think? How are you building relationships both within, and without, the church? Are you praying for opportunities to share?




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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers.Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Great thoughts. I often pray that God will give me opportunities.

    • Thanks, Rob!

      I do, too. It’s kind of constraining where I’m at, but these are not limits for God. He is faithful to bring the interested.

  • Preach it, Chad! We act as though we will change the culture with all of our issues, movements and political means. That won’t change hearts. People tell me all of the time that we have to preserve ttaditional, Christian American values. And what they’re talking about is fighting these big issues. Maybe the reason we are where we are is because we didn’t fight for ours and our neighbors souls.

    • Bingo! You got it, Larry! For instance: not that I’m necessarily against drinking in moderation, but wouldn’t it have been better to mold folks who didn’t like liquor, rather than enacting prohibition? We all know how that worked out. People will always rebel against externally imposed strictures like that. It’s our nature(s). And we need a new one (nature, that is).

  • Good advice. If you want to influence someone for good, be the type of person they would want to be like.

    • Simple common sense, right? Do as you would done by. Thanks for dropping by!