One-sided cultural engagement

Have you ever thought about the fact that most Christians experience a one-sided version of cultural engagement? I mean that most of us experience the culture generated by those outside the church, but the culture-makers never even see our faces. We go to the movies, listen to the radio, read the news article, but when do they ever hear our voices? They don’t. It’s all one sided. He listen to them tell the stories, sings the songs, and give their opinions. Why do we do that?

We can rule out one thing right now. We can’t say we’re doing to it to be a witness or make an impact on the world. I mean, we could say that, but it would be ludicrous. Imagine you were mentoring a recent convert to Christianity and he told you he’s been spending a lot of time with a heathen friend, hoping to bring him to Christ.

“That’s great, What kind of things do you do?” you ask.

“Well, sometimes I watch him shoot pool, or he’ll play guitar and sing,” he tells you. “He tells hilarious jokes.”

“And what do you do?” you ask, thinking this sounds a little odd.

“I usually just watch and listen,” he tells you. He doesn’t seem to think it odd at all. “Sometimes I eat popcorn.”

You try to look encouraging and ask, “What does he say when you tell him about Christ?”

“Oh, that doesn’t happen.”

You’re silent for a moment and then he continues.

“It’s physically impossible for him to hear my voice, or even see my face.”

We can all see that there is no witnessing going on here. The Christian is receiving input from the pagan, but the pagan is not receiving anything from the Christian.

I know, I know. Nobody wants to be one of those guys. The people who are too good for the movies, too holy for rock and roll. I don’t want to be that guy, you probably don’t either.

But man do I get tired of listening the pagans tell their pagan stories with surround sound. Most of the worldly media that I come into contact with is well made. The stories stick with you. The feelings can linger. The pagan ideas are artfully presented.

When I think of this, one scripture that always comes to mind is Psalm 1.

Psa 1:1  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 

Psa 1:2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 

The blessed man in this Psalm doesn’t go to the same places the wicked people go. Why not? He has better things to do.

Now someone will say “Jesus ate with sinners.” And I will ask you to consider that maybe that doesn’t mean quite what it is coming to mean in our modern day. No, not that sinners have changed. But the phrase “Jesus ate with sinners” seems to be taking on a meaning that I’m not sure it has in scripture.

Does it mean that Jesus went to sin parties? Is that how he gets down? I’m not so sure. Remember that time when Jesus was at the brothel? No, I can’t seem to recall that record. Remember the time when tax-collector was stealing from people and Jesus tagged along? Hmm.

If you said you were going to rob a liquor store, would Jesus shout “shotgun?”

Isn’t the meaning of “Jesus ate with sinners” the fact that he didn’t allow past sin to define a person’s future? I can’t think of any time Jesus participated in sin. That wasn’t what the religious people got upset about. It was the fact that he let sinners touch him.

Jesus changed people, and he didn’t do it by being invisible. He was visible and audible. Neither of which applies to me when I’m inside a movie theater.

 

tiny lantern

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