546 – When Culture and Christianity Clash
If you want to slip out of a party early without being noticed, use “Christianity” and “culture wars” together in a sentence and give it a couple of minutes.
Why are our opinions so hotly divergent? That’s because Jesus did not prescribe a set of cultural norms. He didn’t ask Jews to stop being Jewish any more than He asks bikers to stop riding motorcycles. Jesus came to usher in a kingdom, not a culture. He came to bring salvation to all cultures–whether rich or poor, black or white, bodybuilder or geek, Republican or Democrat, Buddhist or Hindu, Muslim or Jewish, Protestant or Catholic, Boomer or Millennial. He’s content to let His kingdom operate within the traditions of whichever culture we find ourselves.
So whether you are a Northeastern liberal or a Midwestern conservative, you don’t have to change that. Christianity is meant to be lived inside cultures. But what should we do when the culture clashes with our Christian values?
Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon offers this guidance: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: ‘Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare'” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).
Jesus means for us to live out our Christianity right where we are. That’s the mission. We do not embrace. We do not withdraw. We do not overthrow. We engage. And as we do, God will orchestrate our collective good deeds for His greater good.