Engaging Culture [Part 1]
John 17:13-19, “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
We learn some very important lessons from this passage:
- His plan for us is to live in this world (we are not automatically teleported to Heaven once we believe in Jesus)
- The world will hate us (judgement, criticism, persecution)
- There is an EVIL one who rules this world! (the Devil)
- We don’t belong to this world (which explains why we often feel so out of place)
- Jesus has given us His word, which is the TRUTH.
As Christians we cannot merely view culture (music, movies, TV shows, Facebook etc.) passively, merely as entertainment. We must actively engage it as a sermon preaching a world view. When we see it this way we can evaluate it and respond to it appropriately either by RECEIVING, REJECTING, OR REDEEMING it.
Receive it: Some examples: God’s word, preaching (although not all preaching is truth), doctors advice, Multivitamins, fire safety advice etc.
- These things are beneficial to us and won’t violate any of our Christian ideals) and so can accept them into our lives.
- Danger: Too much ‘receiving’ can often lead to a very social Christianity. A faith that has been diluted by cultural norms (for the sake of relevance) and so has become something without any power or conviction.
Reject it: Some examples: Alcoholism, drugs, pornography etc.
- These things can, in no way, benefit us nor are in line with Christian living and so we must reject them as evil and sin.
- Danger: Too much ‘rejecting’ can often lead to an overly fundamental view of the world (man made rules created in the name of achieving holiness, and hiding out in Christian culture). These people often see other’s sins more easily than they see their own and often face pride in their own religious or moral behavior. (i.e to listen to rap music is sin)
Redeem it: Some examples: Hip Hop, Sex, Technology
- These things were either originally designed for good and the world turned them to evil (e.g sex) or they have the purpose of being used for good or evil (e.g technology)
- Danger: Many people overestimate their spiritual maturity by believing they can redeem (or buy back) a certain thing but actually they find themselves engaging with something they personally needed to reject. Therefore, a response like this must be done under good counsel and with good support.
What’s important to note is that these responses are not uniform across different people. For example, one person might need to reject a certain kind of music because of the negative thought patterns it encourages within them, while another can listen to music and not be affected. The same may go for Facebook (entices gossip, lust, insecurity) and so on. Each person must evaluate things on their own terms.
We’ll talk more about this tomorrow… but for now evaluate yourself; what things in your life do you need to receive, reject, or redeem?