Christ and Culture

Richard Niebuhr wrote a book about a century ago looking at Christ, culture, and how the two should interact in our lives. The purpose was to look at Christ’s example for us in Scripture and what then we as Christians two millenniums later should interact with culture. It is a spectrum of five different choices which Niebuhr lists ranging from the extremes of being against culture and of culture. On the one hand, we have groups like the Amish and Mennonites who completely separate themselves from society, and on the others we have a group of believers so immersed in society that they cannot even be recognized.

As extremes usually go, neither seems to be a good idea. The best fit seems to lie in the middle, which leave us with a couple of choices. Are Christ and culture in paradox, where we have a dualism view which does not seem to bad on the surface level because we recognize good and evil. Yet when we get into the heart of it, this says that evil and good are equal (think Star Wars) and so while we are used to good winning because those stories make money, really it is an even fight. Yet, we as Christians know this is not the case. Then we have Christ above culture where he seems to be battling and fighting with it, but this does not seem to quite fit the mold of who Jesus is either.

In the middle we have Christ as the transformer of culture. We are to live our lives attempting to influence culture and show the world the Savior who has saved us. We show the world Jesus and they see that they need him. This view realizes that while not all culture is good, it is not all bad either. Rather, parts of culture seem to have good intentions, but slightly miss the mark.

It has always blown my mind that forever, it seems, our culture loves a movie with a hero who saves the day. The damsel in distress, the hero saving the world from evil – it is as if our insides connect so well with these stories. It is as if we recognize our need of a hero and a savior in our lives. Culture sells love, albeit cheaply, and we buy it because we long for a love that only one can fill. Paul tells us in Romans 1 that all of creation bears witness to God, and while this may be more directly referring to nature, I believe culture does the same.

We are to be transformers of culture. Showing the world Jesus and leveraging him in all things in our lives to glorify and honor him. Worshiping him in our daily lives, not just in a couple of songs at church or on our iPhones. Christ is continuously transforming us and conforming us to his image through the work of his Holy Spirit, and he is continuing to transform the world and he is wanting to use us as the church to help do that. Let us not miss our call to do so.

Lord, let us be responsive to your call in our lives. Let the transformation you are doing in our lives reflect who you are, your might, your majesty, your love. Let us see others and love them as you do. Allow us to be comfortable where you lead us. May we lead through humility and service. May we minimize ourselves to magnify your grace. May we follow where you lead us to help you transform our world, and bring a broken people back to you. Amen.

I love you guys, and so does Jesus. I hope you continue to long for this water, and continue to drink from it as well. Until next time, blessings to you and your family,

Josh Gentry

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