Responding to the Culture
The dictionary defines culture as the “customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.”1 People in every culture reject the gospel (remember that Satan is active Ephesians 2:2–3 and 1 Peter 5:8). If we as believers intentionally seek out nonbelievers to share the gospel with, we must learn to have a balanced approached in penetrating the cultures that reject the gospel while relating to people without compromising our moral integrity. Three general ways Christians approach the culture are; running away and hiding; diving into and sinking; and studying, relating, and impacting.
Running away and hiding is the choice to remove yourself from any interaction with anyone outside of your local Christian community. Some have taken this to an extreme and have very little interaction with and impact on nonbelievers. The Bible calls believers to live a life of separation, meaning a distinct lifestyle that chases after the things of God and not the things of this world Romans 12:1-2 and 1 John 2:15-17). But living a holy lifestyle doesn’t mean we should separate ourselves from everyone who isn’t like us. Living in total isolation from sinners is counter-gospel and the Great Commission.
Diving into and sinking means lowering the standard of our biblical convictions, sometimes even to the point of sinning in order to be accepted by the non-believing culture. When this takes place there is no longer a distinction between the Christian and the non-Christian in speech, attitude, and action. An example of this is a Christian who dates a nonbeliever in order to “witness” to them. Before too long they move in together and start living in sin. From the outside looking in, the Christian is living in sin and their lifestyle can no longer be distinguished from that of the sinner. Unrepentant sin (that is biblically identified) should then be corrected by the elders of the local church the Christian is in fellowship with (Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-13).
Studying, relating, and impacting is looking at the culture through the lens of the Bible before entering in. The culture’s belief system, language, and practices are examined in light of Scripture, allowing the believer to find ways to relate to the culture. The Christian will use vocabulary and concepts the culture can understand to build relationships, but won’t commit acts of sin in order to gain approval (Acts 17:16-34). Relationships are developed, the gospel is shared, and follow-up becomes the focus. Think of music. Christians are free to use their gifts and talents to preach the gospel through various forms of music. The Christian would stay away from certain elements of the music genre they are targeting and the lifestyle that is associated with it (e.g., clubbing, drugs, the abuse of alcohol, obscene language, and fornication), so that they are involved with the culture but yet distinct from all that the culture has to offer in the realm of sin.
As God has called us as a movement to Live it Up, let’s be mindful of how we can, under the accountability of our local church leaders, seek to study, relate and impact the campuses, barbershops, offices and stores He’s called us to reach for His glory. Remember the goal is not acceptance earned by paying the price of compromise rather it’s being found faithful to the call has placed on our individual lives.
1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/culture, accessed on August 27, 2012.
The content of this blog was adapted from ReachLife’s new resource, DNA: Foundations of the Faith.
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