Culture, Evangelism, and Everything else I wanted to say today

Being a Christian means participating in the life of the eternal Godhead. But this participation is in the midst of a world that is constantly changing; people change, families change, cultures change. As Christians, then, we must learn how to see the eternal and changeless faith that Jesus Christ bestows in the context of a shifting world its fluxuating philosophies.
Today we definitely see a recycling of the 60’s, but there are some differences. I work with the research branch of the Forest Service right now, with environmentalists, biologist, ecologists, etc… And probably 1/3 of the people I work with are practicing Buddhists. Young, caucasian, American adults in their 20’s and 30’s embracing the Buddhist religion. Just seems a little odd. [Of course, after saying this, every culturally-adapted bit in me wants to say, “I’m not judging it, just noting it”]

They also embrace the “next adventure” philosophy, which is always looking for the next thing they can do. Rock climbing, dirt biking, fishing, extreme sports, this is all part of the purpose of life for my generation. Why settle, get married, and have a family when there is an adventure to be had? And really, why get married at all? Let’s be new and different, live together and maybe/maybe not have kids at some point when it is convenient for us (i.e. doesn’t compromise our adventures) – that sounds like the life! I confess that I’m very definitely part of this mentality, and just now standing back to look and squint at it, wondering how the Gospel and Christianity is being compromised by this mode of thought.

Jump around with me for a moment. Tolerance is the answer to everything today. And there is definitely the sens in which Christians are not to condemn non-Christians by our own standards. We should not expect pagans to act like anything other than pagans. Of course my co-workers live with their girlfriends, of course they’re homosexual, of course they swear like sailors. Their sin nature has not been redeemed in the blood of Jesus Christ, and is therefore given free reign. They have not the strength of Christ to resist temptation, nor the reason to do so.

At the same time, perhaps more shocking than the expected paganism of our non-Christian acquaintances, is the unexpected moralism that many non-Christians embrace. I know I was shocked in college and again this year that many of my non-Christian friends seemed to be gentler, kinder, more generous, and generally more enjoyable to be around than my Christian friends. Or even myself. What do we do with these non-Christian friends that seemingly have everything put together? And it is a dilemma! I have not come to many conclusions, but just some thoughts on the topic (as per usual these days…). First, be convicted! I have found myself most convicted this summer by a homosexual friend that is kind, gentle, courteous, caring, and loving – all those things I should be and more. Secondly, give thanks to God that He has been gracious enough to bestow the imago Dei so undeniably in mankind, that moralism is possible. And thirdly, realize that Christianity is not about moralism; it is about a just God who seeks the souls, not just morals, of mankind.

Right? Talk to me friends (my randomness has given full excuse for any random thoughts you may have as well!)

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Darkness

I challenge you to sit outside in the mountain air, or a forested area, or an exotic city park (for those of you in Dallas, you may have to get creative…).
Sit there from sunset to sunrise.
Observe the emotions that will course through your veins.
Observe how tense you may get at times.
Observe your reaction when something crashes ten feet from you and you have no idea what monster may be lurking there.

Now stop and think. What has changed? Has anything in the basic reality of creation changed in those hours? No. The thing that has changed is your own sense of control. If the woods were lighted, then no fear would dwell in me. But without light, that simple pinecone falling through the branches could be saskwatch. Don’t laugh – it could be.

I wanted to let my sense of terror proceed as naturally as possible, without squashing and squandering it in my mind. I tried not to be invincible and strong. If something fell, I jumped. If two evenly-spaced lights appeared through the brush, I did not restrain my pulse from getting louder and stronger. If those lights were big and round and green, I screamed (c.f. earlier mountain lion experience). All new experiences for me.

But I am here to report that as of July 7th, nearly all the fear has gone. It all changed that night when I was too tired to care about much, and went crashing through the woods on my own because my partner wasn’t feeling up to it that night. I was a little ticked off (partner probably wasn’t up to it because he was hungover, and I was the one who had just flown in from Texas and had a right to be tired…), so I just marched up that mountain by myself. It never occurred to me that I should be scared or nervous, or something. Little 5’3″ me, a forrest, a mountain, and who knows what hiding creatures in the miles around me. The nerves seemed all but asleep. After that, the fear seemed to be gone. That means that for a person of my learning curve, it takes approximately 12 days to overcome the terror of the night.

A more philosophical view of all this later. For now, I am shocked that it took only 12 days for me to overcome being stripped of my sense of control over life and surroundings. And I am also sure it will take more than 50 more years to overcome that in the rest of my life…