Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Not over thinking transforming culture

One struggle for Christians is the tension of how exactly they are to relate to their surrounding culture. They are not to simply embody the surrounding values of their non-believing neighbors-which often happens so subtlely that many of us don't realize it. Yet we aren't to separate from it either. And still, a neutrality or ambivalence isn't even a possibility. Check out this Keller quote from his article "Church and Culture" I found on church planter Joe Holland's blog.

“To say ‘we must never try to change the culture’ is simply an over-reaction. No one
can live in the world neutrally. Culture is living out what we truly worship, and everyone is
worshipping something. Simply to work and live in the world, without sealing our faith off from our work, will transform culture.”

There are a few similar and related cultural models based upon the portrait of living FOR your city in Jeremiah 29. Exiles are to pray for and bless their pagan city, "For in its welfare, you will find your welfare."

But I think this is the most simple and succinct Jer 29 based model I've seen. I've read a number of books like Culture Making, and Christ and Culture:Revisited. And I have benefited from them and don't regret reading and engaging with them. However, simply living out your faith and loving your neighbors, co-workers, and friends is the simplest and perhaps most effective way to transform the culture.
Here's a great example of Tony Dungy living out his faith and inviting others, even unbelievers to join him in visiting a Florida jail. I originally heard about this on the Dan Patrick radio show, because Tony doesn't often self-promote. Dan was actually very excited to come alongside Tony and Michael Vick.
I don't know what kind of gospel centered conversations Tony and Dan have had behind the scene. I imagine that those things have come or will come up over time. But for the time being, Dungy is simply living out his faith and sharing his life with others. What ends this will have for the culture of Tampa is not Tony's job, burden, or responsibility. What means God delights to use is his (and ours) calling, joy, and privilege.

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