In the past few weeks, many controversies have rocked our society, causing Christians everywhere to be in an uproar. From Caitlyn Jenner to the Duggars, much of our society is used to only hearing from Christians when there’s a debatable topic circulating the mainstream.
Of course, this shouldn’t be the case.
If the only time society hears Christians speak is during a controversy or debate, then we’re not living up to our calling.
So many of us Christians do this because we’re only concerned about “Christianizing” culture—or getting culture to match our ideals and expectations. As a result, we only present our point of view during a debate—but that’s not what society needs.
We need a healthier understanding of how culture works if we ever want our culture to acknowledge God. We can’t just scream our point of view at culture and hope for it to change. We’re not called to purely “Christianize” culture; we’re called to love it first, and then change it out of compassion. That’s the way of Jesus.
Here are a few things we should understand about culture before we try to change anything:
1. Culture is not your enemy.
It’s not us against them. It’s us for them. Public policies, people in power, and movements are not our enemies because people whom God would shower with love champion them. If we learn to see what God sees when He looks at us, maybe then we would posture ourselves with grace rather than the offensive.
2. Being relevant is not the same as being authentic.
When trying to change culture, the solution isn’t to go with what’s flashy and cool today. What people are really looking for is something that’s real. This is hard to come by in our society of crafted images and salesmanship. Instead of trying to find a way to outfit your message in something that’s culturally appealing, focus on being genuine first. That’s what will raise eyebrows.
3. Culture doesn’t change with a blog post.
Ironic, I know. But I acknowledge that real change happens face to face. We learn this example from Jesus. The people who were most changed by Jesus were the ones who had direct contact with Him. We can’t hide behind screens and expect society to change. We have to be in the trenches and on the field if we want to see anything happen.
I don’t say this to mean we shouldn’t write blog posts. Just know that if that’s the only thing you’re doing with your conviction, something needs to change.
4. Culture asks for a point of view, but it really needs action.
Like I said before, culture is used to only hearing from Christians when a debate or controversy strikes mainstream culture. But this isn’t how it should be. Culture might ask for our point of view during these times, but this isn’t what’s ultimately going to change hearts. It’s a mix of heart, head, and hands. We tell them what we believe and we show them what it practically looks like. We can’t talk about love without showing it—which is a lesson learned from Jesus.
5. Benefits must always outweigh cons.
My wife who is a counselor tells me that when a person undergoes changing a behavior, they must be presented with more pros than cons in order to follow through with the change. The same applies with Christianity speaking to culture. Culture is used to hearing Christians only preach the dangers and negative aspects about not following God, but what they need to hear is some pros thrown in. When the pros for choosing God outweigh the cons in their mind, then lasting change has occurred. This doesn’t mean we water down our message to appeal to people. This means we present a balanced perspective—with both the good and bad.
6. Culture doesn’t change with the work of one person.
In movies, we see a lone hero change everything—but that’s not how it works in real life. If Jesus taught us anything with His ministry, it’s that you need people to spark movements. Culture is not going to honor the efforts of one person trying to change society with their Christian convictions. They’re going to honor a person who rallies others behind their cause. So let’s stop trying to do it alone. It’s not your mantle to carry alone.
Culture sees Christians as people who are constantly trying to “Christianize” culture—trying to infect the mainstream with our values. But let’s give them something else to chew on. Let culture acknowledge Christians as people who live like Jesus. That’s when we’ll see real change happen.
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