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Engaging society in a Post-Christian culture

Culture has changed, and there’s a lot of people who are pretty ticked off about that.

barbarabillingsley

In our attempts to become Christlike many well-meaning Christians are lulled into a isolation. They begin with the reasonable thought of shielding their family from culture. The premise is that society no longer has prudent boundaries on what’s appropriate, especially for children, and since they feel so helpless to fight the trend they simply disappear. I can appreciate some of this. I was recently at a very graphically violent movie and someone a couple rows back had their 5 year-old kids with them. While protecting children from experiences that are not age-appropriate may be valid responding by isolating oneself from culture degenerates into a form of arrogant superiority that is both myopic and unhealthy.

This is not a new problem, in the first century there was a group of people so disgusted by the culture surrounding them that they fled to the desert to start a new, purer form of culture, the Essenes.

Jesus was fully human and fully God. Sometimes in an attempt to establish His divinity we cover up His humanity. When Jesus met the people of His time that religious people sneered at He did not hate them, He did not retreat; in fact He engaged them, He broke bread with them and went into their houses and shared a meal. This is a very human act, and one that if more people simply shared a meal with someone different from themselves might find out they have a lot more in common than they supposed. The Christian defense of “be IN the world, not OF it” was never intended to mean not being WITH people.

A key difference between the 1st century Jewish sects and the Christian isolationists of today is that the Essenes lived in a Jewish nation (albeit occupied by a foreign power) and today most Christian leaders do not recognize that we live in a post-Christian America. They are angry that society moved on without them and they aren’t sure what to do to get back to shaping culture. Instead of attempting to control society through political jockeying, shame tactics or religious bullying  why don’t we pursue genuine relationship without an agenda? Until Christian leaders can demonstrate LOVE for those around them we have no rights to attempt to influence anyone.

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2 responses

  1. The last sentence is the key of this entire message for me. We need to BE the love that we are trying to communicate and demonstrate it to all people in every circumstance. That’s when we’ll see change : )

    March 15, 2013 at 9:10 am

  2. Great thoughts Sean. I find myself wanting to retreat into the isolation with my kids. The kind of stuff they will encounter at such a young age in our culture scares me. Thanks for the reminder of how Jesus lived IN the world and not OF it. Do I hope culture and society will be shaped by my actions and opinions of what is acceptable or not, yes. Is that my agenda, no. I want to love people and introduce them to Jesus. He can change them, I can’t.

    April 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm

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