These are challenging days to be a follower of Jesus.
We are living, it seems, in a culture that is about as far removed from its Christian heritage as it can be. Living for Jesus is a daily battle.
There are a couple of principal ways that God’s people, the church, can respond to culture.
First, the church can adopt culture when communicating the gospel. For example, a church can reflect the musical style preferences of the community it is seeking to reach by singing songs in worship whose style sounds like what its neighbours are listening to on their car radios. (That means, in urban centres, there can be room for churches that express worship style in virtually every fashion – but in smaller communities, it is necessary to know what people listen to in order to design worship effectively.) Another example comes in using language that makes sense to the contemporary ear – using modern Bible translations, avoiding religious jargon, and the like.
By adopting culture when communicating the gospel, the church speaks the language of the people it seeks to reach, and more people come to know and love and serve the Lord. Win!
Another way that the church can respond to culture is to adopt cultural values in place of the gospel. If you’re an active follower of Jesus, I don’t need to list off the cultural values that are winding their way into the church’s doctrine across North America, but there are some that don’t make the headlines. Downplaying the centrality of the cross, for example, leads to the downfall of the church as people assume that everyone’s going to be saved in the end. In churches that adopt cultural values in place of the gospel, some are also using contemporary means of communication, but what they are communicating is not the gospel.
If you are seeking to live for Jesus, you understand that you’re fighting a cultural battle. As Lutheran pastor Hans Fiene said in a tweet earlier this week, “If you’re still breathing, you’re still soldiering.”
Each of us who loves and serves the Lord Jesus is responsible to soldier on, ensuring the good news is told far and wide: that Jesus died in our place, to atone for our sins, and rose from the dead to bring us eternal life. There’s nothing culture’s got that can beat that!
“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6.12, NLT).