On Culture

We are called to live in our present time and yet, at the same time, we are called to be workers of Christ’s Eternal Kingdom as well. We have reflected on how this applies to our attitude towards history, modernity, and nationalism. Now,  consider how this applies to our posture toward our culture.

In contemporary society we are surrounded by art, music, film, sports, fashion, etc. Even when we don’t realize it, culture influences our lifestyle. Our everyday actions—how we get around, how we dress, how we talk, what we do, what we listen to, what we celebrate, what we dream about, and more—is influenced by our culture.

We must ask ourselves, where does our faith fit in? How should it fit in? Are we to abstain from culture? Are we to immerse in culture?

Firstly, we must live in tension and strive for balance. There is nothing in Scripture that indicates Jesus abstained from culture to extreme degrees. In fact, even on the evening He would be arrested (and knowing this was about to happen) Jesus still ate, drank, and sang with His friends. He was immersed in the cultural traditions of His time. We must also remember though, that during that same evening He also prayed, shared messages of eternal truth, and remained faithful to God’s calling. (Mark 14)

Furthermore, we must both create our individual culture and be an influence on the culture around us. Individually, it is up to each of us to discern through prayer and mediation, along with our leaning on the Spirit, what we should be involved with and what we should abstain from. As a result, our engagement and extrication influence culture as a whole. We may not always see the impact of our cultural decisions on culture at large, however every decision we make in some way affects cultural tides.

Now, in the Christian community some talk of “culture wars” between “Christian ideals” and those found in culture. But, did our Savior not sit with people of all types and listen to them? His mission was not to condemn the world, but to share His light among humankind. (John 3:16-21) We too, living in the present time (before Christ’s return), must sit with and listen to people of all types, sharing the Light of the World. So, since this is the case, perhaps there is more to benefit from living in culture than abstaining from culture.

Faith can be lived as we live in our culture, and perhaps we can even see God in new ways by partaking discerningly in our culture. In turn, we can influence our culture for the glory of the Eternal Kingdom.

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