times they make us afraid our faith is under fire.
However, when put to the test through courts of law
or public protest, a reasonable and fair outcome has
often occurred. Instead of assessing our cultural position soberly, we panic when we confuse our loss of
privilege with persecution.
Perhaps we feel our loss of position in culture so
acutely because we became too accommodated with
the principalities and powers of secular nationhood
and global economy. We expect to have power, authority and cultural advantage. Our ruined comfort irritates
us like a bad spring in an old mattress. We’d rather try
to find a new position in bed than get up and face the
world with the gospel of Christ. We become our own
This leads us to the second problem with a retreat
from culture – the culture needs us.
Christians have too quickly withdrawn from reminding decision makers and secularists that the
foundations of our country depend on an understanding of the dignity of humanity and the sovereignty of
God that comes from a Judeo-Christian understanding
of society. We don’t have to be numerous to be equipped
to present God’s wisdom and love beyond the walls of
the Church. But we do have to be gentle as doves, and
wise as serpents.
And we must be present.
And of course, we are present. It’s not as if there is
the friendly Church and hostile culture. That’s not the
way culture works. Christians are part of culture, and
culture is part of us. When we talk about how “they”
have rejected Christ and “they” have moved so far away
from the gospel, what we are usually talking about is
our friends, our neighbours, our loved ones, ourselves.
This is our culture. One we participate in every day.
This recognition helps us overcome fear and misunderstanding of our position in a new cultural reality.
“They” are not some bogeyman ready to pounce in the
basement. “They” are our friends and loved ones.
Want to know how the culture is thinking? Ask your
brother, your grandkids, your neighbour. Think about
the aspects of culture that shape you and make you
think and act the way you do. Go to a film, listen to
music, sit in a coffee shop. The gospel is always delivered in a cultural package – and good thing too because otherwise human beings would be lost.
As it is Jesus came to earth in a place and time and
entered cultural existence. He reaffirmed God’s creational mandate to grow culture as a positive human
task. Jesus rebuked those aspects that inhibited the
growth of the Kingdom of God and defeated them on
the cross. His resurrection victory over death happened