Christians have a funny understanding of culture.
Many times when a new technology or cultural progression occurs, Christians automatically reject it. We don’t examine or investigate. We just cast off.
We liked the old way of doing church, preaching the Gospel, teaching truth. We don’t want that new stuff.
Having a preference isn’t wrong, but what happens is that in the minds of many Christians, the old ways become another truth to us—another Gospel—as if by playing an organ in church more people will be saved than by drums and lights.
What happens is that we equate the old way with righteousness. We all want to live righteously, right? And so, when we see the culture progressing from that old way, we retreat, we build walls, and create a righteous Christian culture bubble where we can be safe. And then we create our own alternatives to what the world offers so we feel like we still can have fun.
Such a mindset is sinful. Let’s call it for what it is.
THOU SHALT NOT TWEET
When we declare something “righteous” and something else “evil” without the backing of Scripture, we are doing what the Pharisees did—adding rules upon rules upon rules. I think God’s Word is sufficient enough to give us an adequate framework for morality, even in the 21st century. We don’t need to help God out by inviting ourselves to brainstorm new commands with Him.
Let’s also consider the implications of such a mindset.
We, the Church, have been commissioned to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The bubble-mindset is antithetical to this command. We cannot go if we are cloistered behind closed doors.
Take for example social networks. I know many Christians who have taken advantage of Twitter and Facebook for the glory of God. But I also know many other Christians who would criticize the other ones for being a part of social networks.
The comments vary between: “It’s all about pride on Twitter, so I’m not going to be a part of that” (translation: because I’m so humble)—”I’m a relational person, so I can only relate to people face-to-face”—”I don’t have time”—”It’s just stupid”—”It’s just a fad that will fade away.”
While I don’t have time to answer every objection (and that is not the object of my post), I would like to say this: social networks are not going anywhere. As of 2011, over 500 million people are on Facebook. That’s not a fad; that’s a cultural movement that is changing how the world is working. It may not be Facebook that’s the top dog in five years, but social networks are here to stay for a while.
If we are commanded to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” how come we are not willing to obey the “go” part? This is where the people are and so we must go.
As my lead pastor, Wesley, said the other day—gone is the day in America when a church could just open their doors and call it evangelism. Today, if your church doesn’t have a website, people may not even know it exists.
People called compact discs and digital music a fad. Now most new cars don’t even come with a tape player. Yet, I can guarantee you that there is a pastor somewhere still trying to hand out his sermons on cassette tapes.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GOSPEL
Of course, not all technology and culture is beneficial or good. If it violates Scripture then don’t use it. But don’t forget that many things in culture are morally neutral—it’s the person who decides if it will be used for evil or God’s glory. The internet can be used for pornography or for reaching people with the Gospel who would never set foot in a church—they are hurting and don’t know what to do, so they Google “Does God love me.”
It’s easy to forget that God was willing to come into human culture to reach us. He wrote the Bible in a language. He employed authors who used figures of speech and referenced customs of the day. And then He sent His Son to live in a culture. To eat certain foods. To dress a certain way. To speak a certain language. All with the goal of saving people in the culture.
Christians can reflect God as His ambassadors and do this too.
The Apostle Paul used the newly developed postal routes to send out his letters to the churches. Paul also quoted pagan poets to illustrate certain Gospel truths (Acts 17:28). Gutenberg and Luther used the new printing press to mass produce the Word of God. Today, many people are being saved through the free and easy access to thousands of quality preaching via podcasts and YouTube.
What really matters is that we have a heart to reach the lost and are willing to do anything outside of sin to do that. Christians, we cannot idolize our methods and our comfort. It doesn’t matter if it is through Twitter or on the bus; we should always have the Gospel on our lips.
How will you burst out of your bubble and get in the game?