When we come across aspects of our culture that we dislike or find to be wrong, how do we react? What do we do?
Three ways we (as Christians) typically react:
Abstain: We don't participate. We look down on anyone who does. We avoid anyone who does.
The problem with abstaining is not that we shouldn't avoid things that are wrong. The problem is that often abstaining means completely removing ourselves from the culture and the people who are in it that still need Jesus.
Change: We seek to change what we don't like through coercion, politics or other means.
The problem with changing the culture is it might be impossible. Cultures and societal tendencies are big and have a lot of momentum and are difficult, if not impossible, to change from the top down. But if we focus on the people within the culture, loving them in a way that shows them Jesus, by God's grace those people might change.
Create: We really like this one. We'll create our own stuff. Are movies getting trashy? We'll create a Christian version. Don't like where hip-hop is going? We've got Christians artists covering that. (In fact, I can say with confidence that wherever secular culture is going we probably have Christians looking into how to copy it and create our own version.)
The problem is that if we only create our own culture, we never engage with people who need Jesus in their culture. We can get lost in the culture we created or become so used to it that we are literally shocked when we step out of it, and unable to engage the people we run into.
This whole post started from 8 words I penciled down after listening to a message on a college campus. I think the speaker went on to share the correct reaction to culture, but I didn't write it down. I guess I have to make up my own:
Engage: Abstain from the sin. Seek to change people. Create what God lays on your heart to create.
But all the while engage the people God has put in your path.