Culture and the Church

I wonder how many Christians struggle with what is necessary culturally and how does that mesh with our purpose of bringing glory to Jesus Christ.  I was reading over The Measure of a Man, written by Gene A. Getz.  He was introducing what it looks like to be a good witness for Christ.  It also gets to what is in our heart and the why we do something.  Getz talks about adorning the Gospel or presenting the gospel attractively.  That can look like many things.  It is our actions that speak to the culture about what Christians are like.  

The example Getz gave was when he moved into a home that was owned by a Preacher.  The home was built on rock.  Not in the context of building your home on a strong foundation.  Actually rock where the grass would not grow.  So the home with the Preacher in it, did not have the time to tend to his lawn or lack thereof and the neighbors resented the impact his property was having on the resale value of homes in the neighborhood.

So when Getz moved into the home, he found out that the neighbors had already had a context on how Preachers take care of their property.  Many walls were erected and he got a cold shoulder from a lot of them.  

Then they proceeded in trying to clear away the rocks in order to put down top soil in order to grow grass.  Gene and his wife made a decision to invest their limited funds on the exterior of the home.  The reason was they wanted to be able to present the Gospel in an attractive way.  The reality was that Gene did not think he would have a receptive set of neighbors unless he removed the negative context of Preachers based on the care given to the property by the previous Pastor.

In that their funds were limited, they had to do a lot of that back breaking chore by themselves.  The effort was not lost on the neighbors and over time many of the neighbors became quite friendly.  The point is you could be trying to create a facade that is pretty for vain reasons or you go do it to testify and be a good witness to Jesus.  The heart of why makes all of the difference.

Many Christians invest in their house so that it can be a blessing for the church.  We have a family at church that has an in ground pool.  Anybody from the church is welcome to use it. No need to call in advance, just be careful and clean up after yourself.  On many a hot afternoon you could go and see a mother with kids enjoying the blessing of a cool pool on a hot summer day.

Others make their homes available for bible studies, youth group meetings or maybe adhoc marriage retreats.  Again is what lies at the heart of it. One can easily fall into the trap of justifying a bigger purchase than is necessary based on benevolent promises for the future.  

The goal is to continually check yourself to see how you are presenting to the culture without being dictated by the culture.  We must adorn the Gospel, but not by watering it down, but rather being a person of character and grace that would allow people to hear you and what you have to say.

It is always tough to do a honest assessment of what people would say about us.  We can get caught saying that I hope they would say this or hope they say that.  When you ask who would say it, then that will cause us to pause? Then ask when that person has witness evidence of that trait? Then ask if they also have evidence that points to that not being the case?  That is a process that will usually induce depression.  

Who witnesses what and where.  it is hard to pinpoint a consistent strand of empirical evidence to support our initial self-assessment.  I participated in a Bible Study called Sonship. The premise was that we are heirs to the King of Kings.  If we have a saving faith in Jesus Christ than we are heirs to the Heavenly Kingdom.  If we are heirs, much like a Prince that comes into town to conduct business, we are under much scrutiny.  How do we measure up to that scrutiny? Everyone is expecting you to act in the same character of the king that you are an heir to.  Going through that self-assessment was quite gloomy.  Then the study says “cheer up, it is worse than you think”.  

This brings us to Martin Luther who started off trying to suffer his way into heaven.  He would deprive himself of all earthly things and continue to flog himself.  He saw how bad he was and was again trying to earn salvation.  That was until the light went on and he saw that you cannot merit salvation.  It is by His grace and Mercy.  It Jesus’s righteousness that we are adorned in.   So being given such a gift, we should be able to share that grace with others. We should be able to endure hardship and not let ourselves be ensnared again in sin.  But God being a gracious God will forgive us should we fall into darkness.  Jesus adorns us with his righteousness before the father.  We should be able to adorn the Gospel with great affection and grace.  

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