Jeff Myers on Should Christians Engage or Escape Culture?

Once, after a nighttime scuba dive in Mexico, my son and I were ambling back to our hotel from the dock and passed a couples-only resort preparing for a huge dance party. The music was cranked up, inviting people to the celebration.

After we had passed by, my son asked, “Did you hear that song?”

“No, I didn’t,” I replied. “I was still thinking about our dive.”

He replied, “I’m glad you didn’t — because it had the F–word every other word.”

It struck me as funny that my teenage son thought my tender adult ears needed protection from that kind of influence. But his comment — and the conversation that followed — caused me to rethink how I approach culture as a Christian.

Does Ignoring Culture Equal Spiritual Maturity?

That evening in Mexico, I didn’t hear the music because I tend to tune out negative influences. My son, however, didn’t tune it out. As a teenager, he’s hyper-aware of his cultural surroundings. To him, bad stuff doesn’t go away just because you don’t want to think about it.

How did I come to believe that spiritual maturity involves separating myself from things that are vulgar/profane? For me, it was what I have started calling an unquestioned answer. I had never really thought it through. But if I had been paying attention to how the apostle Paul dealt with culture, I might have learned something new about how to bring the gospel to a hurting world.

Paul’s Example in Athens

Once my son shook me out of my stupor about the vulgar song, I began to ask him questions: What do you think about music like that? How does it affect you when people use those words? How do you keep your mind focused on what is good and true when other people use language like that?

It turned into a great discussion about faith and culture. And it made me wonder: What does it look like to use culture as a platform from which to proclaim the gospel?

In Acts 17, we learn that Paul visited the city of Athens and shared about Jesus in the synagogue and in the marketplace (v. 16–17). The marketplace of that day essentially served as a garden of idols. Some of it has been preserved and can be viewed in Greece to this day. The statues Paul would have seen expressed worship of all kinds, from bodily perfection to sexual perversity.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jeff Myers