How are Christians supposed to interact with culture? Are they supposed to ignore it? Avoid it? Yell at it?
A couple of things got me thinking about this topic over the weekend. One was a Facebook post complaining about Christians who watch Harry Potter or listen to Black Sabbath or appreciate other “things of darkness.” Another was an interview with Alistair Begg about the Beatles.
The first took the position that we are supposed to avoid all the “darkness” of the world. They quoted 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
The second took the position that we ought to know the culture we live in. We ought to be intimate with it so we can engage it with truth. We should analyze culture to learn it’s theology and understanding of humanity.
Which do I agree with?
Well, I do agree with scripture that we should not be unequally yoked. We should not marry a non-believer, we should avoid serving two masters, we cannot follow both the world and God.
But I don’t think that means completely shutting out the culture around us. If the separator is going to be completely consistent he would need to avoid working for non-Christians or even working with them. He would need to be like the Pharisees and wash up every time he came in contact with a non-believer. The whole world is dark. We aren’t called to hide from the dark or completely avoid the dark, we couldn’t do it if we tried.
We are instead called to be light in the darkness. We are to shed light on the lies of Satan. And we can’t very well do that if we bury our head in the sand and have no clue what lies are going around.
In his interview, Begg quoted John Lennon as saying that the lyrics to “Help” were a subconscious cry from his heart. But no Christian of the day was reaching out to him with truth and light. No Christian responded with the Biblical definition of love when “All You Need Is Love” came out either. It was a great opportunity to show what real love is but it was missed.
It’s much the same today. We would rather chastise the unsaved than respond to them with truths. We would rather wear our spotless robes of piety and keep our distance from the world than risk getting muddy with those in it. It’s easier to yell at the darkness and deride it than it is to correct it.
Jesus went to the world. He spoke to the worldly and the pious both. He was not afraid of being soiled by the darkness, because He always had the light of truth with Him.
As Christians, we too should not fear the dark. We should instead shine a light into it. In order to do that we have to see the darkness and know it well.
And that may mean we have to get our hands dirty. It may mean that we read books with certain uncomfortable themes or listen to the lyrics of songs that may make us cringe. We have to take every opportunity to show the love of Christ to an ugly world, and that may mean looking that ugliness right in the face. We don’t have to yolk ourselves to it and hold it in high esteem. We don’t have to embrace the lies in it. But when there is a shred of truth we should grasp onto it and expound on it. We should commend truth and correct lies.
Christians need to be involved in the culture. We need to shine on it and spread the Gospel into it. We can’t very well do that from a bunker.