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!)


5 thoughts on “Culture, Evangelism, and Everything else I wanted to say today

  1. . . . Participating in the life of the Eternal Godhead . . . Deification, the Orthodox would say . . . becoming fossils, I once compared it to at a certain conference . . . I know what you mean, one of the kindest, most loyal, neatest people I have ever met was a girl inpublic school who was an on and off druggy and semi-alcoholic and bisexual. Oh, but she was wonderful. She was one of those few people who really haunt you, who years later you honestly wonder, “what happened to her?”The Imago Dei . . . I was talking to a gentleman the other day about theology and philosophy and whatnot over dinner, Mr. Evans, actually, and I realized for the first time that one’s understanding of the Imago Dei is the one of the most fundamental assumptions in one’s worldview. If you believe that original sin has completely obliterated the divine in man, it changes everything . . . unless, I realized, you can appeal to some basic human goodness, you cannot argue aesthetics. Very interesting. You said I could be random. 😀Fr. Foos likes to talk about people made miserable because they run from their baptisms. I think this is true. As Christians, we are not allowed to live with masks. Christ breaks us more so that we will allow him to heal us. Like Eustace the Dragon in the Pool. We either let Christ heal us and make our sins more evident himself or we run and hide and make them nastily evident ourselves. Oh to be an honest pagan . . . life, if not the afterlife, would be so much simpler. And that, I suppose, is exactly what our postmodern world wants to revive: the simplicity and easy rationalism and moralism of the great Pagans, hence Buddhism, I’d think. However, I’m reminded of G.K. Chesterton in Heretics: “But if we do revive and pursue the pagan ideal of a simple and rational self-completion we shall end–where Paganism ended. I do not mean that we shall end in destruction. I mean that we shall end in Christianity.”

  2. Whenever I hear someone say they believe in “the goodness of everyone’s inner self” I ask them if they’ve been around a two year old recently…Good thoughts. There is something to Christians also that makes us think about our sin. Because we have to repent of it. So we have to be aware of it. A lot. Non-Christians may not have that same struggle, so they just – are. And sometimes that looks like freedom. It is perhaps temporal freedom, but certainly not eternal.It’s like the man in the Psalms who prospers and is wicked…it all makes sense to David when he goes into the temple. Ah, that is the difference.

  3. These ramblings have been composting far too long. How does one comment with God’s love clearly demonstrated? If this could be done consistently then there should be no misunderstanding? And there should be no repulse when someone is touched by conversation concerning the Bible and Jesus.(?) Probably not, one’s fear of exposure of inner secrets may stop us at the door. This is where courage comes in and God’s love. That is the challenge isn’t it? Your faith allows you to “step out” and do this, touch people for Christ. Many see almost immediately that having Jesus as an anchor is essential for maintaining one’s sanity in this changing world. Once we receive Christ as our savior, the Holy Spirit gives us the initial and lasting “mustard seed” of faith, perseverance, and patience to begin understanding His Walk. The Bible documents His perfect message but except for Jesus, the message is communicated through imperfect people making the concepts intended appear so conflicting that it has to be real. Associating the South West Experiment Station workforce to the “recycling of the 60’s” got my attention. My perception of a conservative branch of the Forest Service is dated, I admit. Maybe it is the diversity of the problems “The Station” addresses that requires such diverse talents that make it stand out in your mind.(?) Or maybe it is because our society is just more open?As John Eldridge suggests “most of us are looking for the next adventure to partake in, a dragon to slay, with heroes and heroines. But the older we get the more important we place on the relationships we make while in pursuit of that adventure. It is exciting to be a part of God’s epic story. Talking about adventure, I had a short bit of internal excitement last week along Spring Creek cruising some timber for a landowner. I heard a very low grunt- growl about 200 yards above me and another animal answered it! And it started harmonizing! Like a coyote only 5+ octaves loooooower. What an adrenalin rush! Landowner said, yep, there is a wolf pack above his property. The ole 45 needs to be in the vest from now on.Ps: In changing computers I found my old blog. Don’t ask me how. Needs updating.

  4. RD,Amazing discoveries and you say them with such courage. Amen. Now, to whet your appetite…. Les & I are visiting two different Anglican churches over the next few weeks and….

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