As we near the end of this discussion on engaging culture a few concluding points need to be made. Primarily we need to discuss which is worse, sinful thematic elements, or subtle deconstructions of worldview. This is something that we struggle to figure out on a principled level in every aspect of our lives as Christians.
For us to get our minds around this reality we must first look at the life of Jesus to give us a glimpse of how we ought to live. To do that I think it will be helpful to take a look at Luke 7.
This section of Luke’s narrative begins with the story of the Roman Centurion. The Jewish context of this time was varied and it is hard to necessarily pigeon hole the average Jew into a group. However, there is one thing that we can be relatively certain of, and that is the basic distrust and dislike of the Roman occupation. This was understood to be an extension of exile. The average Jew would not have associated with Centurions. The leaders of Capernaum apparently did because this particular Centurion built the local Synagogue.
This story is remarkable because of Jesus’ statement, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
That is an abrasive statement, at best. That would be like a U of M football coach saying that OSU is the greatest football team ever, at a pep rally on campus at U of M. This simply does not happen.
But it did.
From here Jesus raises a widows son from the dead. He displays the justice and compassion of God.
Then we encounter a remarkable interaction between Jesus and John’s disciples. We couldn’t possibly enter into a full exposition of this passage, however, I want to point out verse 34. Jesus says, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”
Consider what Jesus is saying here. He self-identified with the immoral and broken of his culture. He did this to the point that the religious people called him a glutton and a drunk. Jesus stepped into the sinful world and engaged it so fully that he was challenged as to his own morality.
This section closes with a sinful woman, a city prostitute, forgiven. Jesus allowed her to touch him and caress his feet with her hair. She made him ritually unclean. Jesus didn’t care. He forgave her and sent her away in peace.
Jesus engaged the lost world and transformed it.
This is our model.
How do we apply this? That’s the next post!