We must ENGAGE with our culture. Volumes upon volumes could be written about this – and already have been. This is the arena where what we preach and believe must be practiced. Before I say more, see how the Apostle Paul put it, in regards to his own ministry:
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible…I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” – 1 Cor. 9:19 & 22b (emphasis added)
Remember, brothers and sisters, it’s the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm” that we fight. Those blinded by that evil, our fellow human beings, we’re not fighting – we’re saving. We want to win them over to this cause. Moreover, we ultimately want them to be won over to the truth of salvation, so they might know the peace, freedom, and comfort that the Christian following offers. THAT is our endgame.
Engaging with anyone and everyone in this present day culture in America is very hard, because Jesus’ followers are naturally different because of the transformation of our hearts and minds. But we’re called to be set apart on the inside, not outwardly – at least not in every way. While we don’t want to harm our faith by engaging in outright sinful acts that are part of some lifestyles today, we must never forget that it’s by the same grace that they too were forgiven on the cross, and we would live the exact same way, in our own ugly rebellion, if not for Christ living in our hearts. Honestly, being a Christian means giving ourselves up. Do you want to win over others to the truth? Then you and I must become slaves to them. That is, we must let ourselves be mastered by whatever reasonable means it takes to reach others.
This is an art form. Some of us are naturally gifted at making friends, or at being sociable in general. Others of us have to force ourselves out of our comfort zones quite a bit. But a close look at Jesus’ own life reveals that he was never one to seek personal comfort. He came to seek and save the lost. That is our mission too. We can only achieve this by meeting with, sharing meals with, and talking with the very ones we differ from. That’s how our Savior did it (think of the story of Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman at the well in the desert, and many others). We must engage with others, roll up our sleeves and live life alongside them, and “be all things to all people” so that there’s every chance to win them over to the ways of life.
Jeff is a husband, father, and graduate school student. He attends Hope Lutheran in Oconomowoc. Jeff’s background in ministry education and future in the counseling field reflect a heart that loves to serve others and make a difference. He shares his personal or spiritual reflections in his own time at www.missionpossiblejeffulrich.blogspot.com