Evangelism

Thinking about Cultural Engagement

The darker it is, the brighter the light shines. Christians have an opportunity to shine the light of the gospel most brightly, when it’s darkest around us. That being said, the church tends to have two different responses to culture.

Response 1: To withdraw completely
This frame of mind says that the church is a fort to protect us from outsiders. We live in the world in such a way that if we’re shining any light at all, it’s a spotlight from a long way away saying, “There are problems out there in the big, bad dirty world.” We spread the gospel by launching verbal grenades from our bunker.

Response 2: To live in the world as the world
In this view, the gospel is minimized as unhelpful, even offensive. Ministry is focused almost exclusively on felt needs, and the culture is embraced and never challenged.

Gospel Response: Engage & Confront
Both of these responses are insufficient. Clearly, we must be in the culture for our light to shine. If we’re totally withdrawn from social and cultural engagement, we aren’t exposing the secrets hidden in the darkness (Ephesians 5:7-14). At the same time, we’re to be in the world in a way that sheds the light of the gospel’s offense on the sins of humanity against a holy God (John 17:1-18).

The gospel builds bridges by saying that we’re ALL sinners, and it offends by saying that we’re all SINNERS. The only way to God is through repentance and faith. It’s an offensive message that says the sin we love isn’t ok, that we’re not all going to be ok, that the only way to be ok is to repent of our sin and trust Christ. The offense of repentance in the gospel disappears in light of God’s love in the gospel.

The Christian light must be a light that shines both the light of God’s holiness on our sin and the light of God’s love for us in spite of our sin. We shine God’s judgment on sin as a warning and motivation, and we shine the grace of the gospel as a winsome catalyst to run to Christ.

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Do Something Great! (Even if It’s Small)

Ever wanted to do something that changed the world … or at least the world that you know? What keeps you from acting on your ambition? Perhaps it’s a lack of clarity or a lack of good ideas. Often, though, it’s fear of failure that keeps us from pursuing our passion.

For the Christian, our mission was set by Jesus before He left this earth: make disciples by speaking the gospel to every creature. Being part of accomplishing that mission is something great! What, then, is the most effective, most aggressive way you can help accomplish that mission? What can you pray for and pursue that only God can accomplish? How long have you prayed for your neighbor without sharing the gospel? How long have you developed a relationship for “relational evangelism” without ever speaking the gospel?

Perhaps it’s time to do the thing that you fear. Perhaps it’s time to risk a venture that may fail. Perhaps it’s time to speak the gospel to someone who may reject it and may even reject you. Maybe it’s time to embody and speak the gospel boldly in your community in a way that you haven’t before. You see, the fear that keeps you from doing something great (even if it’s small) is the same fear that keeps you from truly taking part in God’s mission for the church: speaking and living the gospel boldly.

“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41, ESV)

The apostles rejoiced in rejection, because they were part of something great. Sharing the worth of Christ and the good news of the gospel may seem small, but it is a great thing to do. So … do something great! (Even if it’s small.)