How Far Do We Wade into Culture?

Posted: September 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

It is almost beyond debate that we live in a “post-Christian” society (i.e., one that is largely apathetic about or hostile to the faith) and that pop culture is the common language of 16-36 year olds (and many below and beyond). 

If we are to be missionaries in this post-Christian culture then it stands to reason that we must study pop culture the same way that a foreign missionary must study the culture of whatever nation or tribe he or she is assigned to reach. 

But the question that I am asked most by fellow Christians is, “How can you become culturally relevant  without being swallowed by the culture?” 

The short answer I give to the largely young people in my church is to watch, read, listen to or study anything that helps you to be sharper missionary in our post-Christian society but avoid anything and everything that tempts you to sin.

For example, I can watch shows like “Dexter”, with its occassional (albeit unnecessary) nudity without temptation but many dudes can’t.  So, they shouldn’t watch it but I should.

I can’t listen to music by Eminem or Kid Rock (beyond the simple objections of good taste) because it leads my mind into dark places.  So, others may be able to listen to it and learn something about our culture (Eminem’s “Lie to Me” is currently one of the most downloaded songs on iTunes) but I simply shouldn’t.

Everyone’s sinful nature manifests itself in different ways and part of our sanctification process is to recognize how and why we are prone to certain sins rather than others.  We must study ourselves as closely as we study the culture around us. 

As someone who preaches and teaches to more than 100 twenty-somethings every Sunday night, I can attest that no one has (or can) know everything about everything that is currently pervading pop culture.  So, watch, read, listen to and study what you can but avoid anything that easily tempts you to sin.  Prayerfully offer to God that which you can digest and know that He will can use it to expand His Kingdom.

Pastor Erwin McManus is right that cultural relevance is not an option.  We cannot complete the Great Commission if we cannot speak the language of those around us but we cannot reach the lost if we are plummeting down a dark path in the hopes of being “ultra relevant.”

How do you know what to watch, read, listen to or study? Check back tomorrow.

Until then, grace and peace.

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