I’m a social Christian. That means I choose not to ignore culture around me, but instead participate in it. I think it is essential for me to be aware of the culture in which I live or as Jesus said, “To be in the world, but not of the world.” I often get asked these questions…
- Can I go see movies that the world sees?
- Can I listen to Top 40 and Rock music instead of Christian music?
- Can I watch television that has nothing to do with Jesus?
Great questions and I must say a resounding “Yes” to all of the above.
Now, before you fire off an angry email to me, I’m not promoting watching filthy movies or listening to ungodly music. I would never promote just watching any movie out there. Instead, I use the good judgement, wisdom and the brain that God gave me to know the difference between good and evil. In fact, I really don’t watch many rated R movies. I can count on one hand the amount of R-rated movies I’ve seen in the past 10 years. And before you say, “Not me!” did you see the Passion of the Christ? Yep, me too, rated R. Before I see nearly any movie, I check it out to see what’s in it.
The fact that I see secular movies, watch secular television programs and listen to secular music doesn’t mean I’m not disturbed by many of the things of this world. There are songs that greatly disturb me, but how can I teach my children or talk to others about them if I don’t know they exist. The same can be said about movies or television shows. What scares me more than educating myself culturally is being so oblivious to the world that I’m out of touch with my children, my peers and the unsaved world.
HERE IS MY POINT: I don’t want to confuse you, but this post really isn’t about what you can and can’t do in society, but about the “why.” Why is it important that I know something about culture? Because, how will I ever win the world if I know nothing about the world? How will I ever be able to relate to the non-Christian, if I know nothing of the non-Christian’s world. Paul said, “To the Jew, I became a Jew to win the Jew. To the gentile I became like the gentiles to win the gentile.” If I know nothing about the unchurched, how can I win the unchurched? If I separate myself from culture, how can I find any common ground when I try and reach the world?
Why is it important that I know something about culture? Because,
how will I ever win the world if I know nothing about the world?
If I was out of touch with culture, I can promise you, the kids from the community that hang out at my house watching football or playing baseball wouldn’t be here. Instead my family can find common ground and connect with them in sports and in culture. That’s why it’s important that I learn to speak the language of culture. I need to speak the language of sports, Seinfeld, Survivor, American Idol, fantasy football, cars, music, movies, gadgets, electronics, etc. I need to know about the songs that are a part of my kids culture, the movies that are popular in our society and the television shows that the world find interesting. Why should I take an interest in culture? To find out where others are and connect with them. God never intended the church or Christians to lock themselves up and hide from the world.
Besides, people of the world don’t know church lingo and church talk, so I have to communicate with them about things they understand. If I walk up to a man in the grocery store and ask him if he’s been washed in the blood, redeemed or sanctified, I’m going to freak him out. Instead I can communicate with him on cultural things, build common ground, and then share my love for Jesus with him.
A month ago, as I stood talking to a man who doesn’t attend church anywhere, my cellular phone went off. The ringtone on my phone was AC/DC’s Back in Black. The look on his face was priceless as he said, “A preacher with an AC/DC ringtone?” I told him I love classic rock and actually had dozens of classic rock ringtones. He couldn’t believe it. He then whipped out his phone and let me hear his classic rock ringtones. We talked for another 10 minutes about music and then out of the blue he asked, “What time does your church start on Sunday?” Was it my nicely pressed shirt that impressed him? I don’t think so. We found some common ground in culture.
I’m a social Christian. I watch secular television shows and my iPod is full of secular music. I choose not to ignore or hide from culture. I choose to be in the world, just not of the world.