Recently, several of our Missions & Mobilization Ministry leadership attended QCommons, hosted by Second Presbyterian, here in Memphis. This event was a worldwide simulcast of several well-known speakers and authors. Sixty cities in North America and throughout Europe we able to be part of a great night of theologically based challenges and spiritual development.
One guest speaker in particular stood out, as he often does, by the way he challenged us to consider the way we are leaving our lives. In a way that only Tim Keller can, he talked about our calling as Christians to not just respond to culture, but create culture.
The following are several expanded thoughts on the notes from the session.
Beyond the simple question of “WWJD”, as Christians living in a postmodern society, what exactly is it we believe God is trying to do as it relates to church in culture?
First we must comprehend the concept of culture. The word originates as an agricultural term – meaning, in part, to not leave nature what it was but to make something of it. In the specific context, turn a piece of land into a crop producing field. Later, in the 17th century, the term would begin to apply to humanity. For example, music is culture as a musician takes raw sounds and organizes notes and pitch to create music. An artist takes mediums like oil, paint and pencil for the purpose of creating on a blank canvas an image that evokes an emotion or abstract experience.
James Hunter would later say culture is the power to define reality.
So how is it, then, that a Christian would be involved in culture making? One needs to look no further than the Old Testament.
Let us be challenged to look at the lives of God-honoring culture makers like Daniel, Joseph and Esther. Daniel would have been a modern equivalent to the young CEO-type capable for creating his own upstart. Joseph, though victim of human trafficking, would go on to radically change culture as he lead, guided and directed a whole people group from his position of power. Maybe my personal favorite, Esther, did not enroll in the local seminary when she began to feel God working in her heart. Instead, she continued to live her life one day at a time and when given the opportunity, an audience with the king, she continued to give God glory by engaging society around her.
The overarching trouble with our society is not new to our place in history. Since the Fall humanity has not been able to agree on what is “the common good” apart from the revelation of God. Everything in society is being rearranged to make expression – though it’s different in every culture – the attempt to express is the same.
So the question we are left with is will we just go through the motions? Or will we respond to this broken world around us as Christians who create, therefore influencing, culture.
Where To Go From Here
Christians must get a nuanced understanding of culture.
It’s not enough to simply be angry about the way things are; become of a student of humanity. As your understanding grows so grows your capacity to create culture and ultimately change.
Understand the lens through which you see the world.
Everyone has a worldview, including Christians; work out your faith with fear and trembling – then be prepared to go in confidence with a healthy, accurate and theocentric world view.
All products must resonate and defy the culture.
It’s not enough to make a Christian-alternative. Everything you say and do while attempting to make a difference in this world should both resonate and defy.
“Resonate” to connect with humanity, “Defy” to point people to a Savior