Saturday, May 31, 2008

Culture in a Petri Dish

Jeremiah is known as the 'weeping prophet,' and even referred to as a whiner sometimes. People at work, where we proofread Bibles, skip over Jeremiah and Lamentations on the sign-out sheet because 'he's so depressing.' He's constantly crying out over his people's destruction, calling for them to turn back to the Lord, interceding with tears before the Lord.

I like reading Jeremiah. It makes me think. A lot. Israel had turned its back on God and followed after worthless gods. Today, people in the 'church' like to say 'America has turned its back on God! They kill babies and worship sex and use foul language!'

Well, first of all, America never was God's chosen nation. There were several Christian principles upon which the country's laws were roughly based. But it was not a theocracy. There were many Christians among those who made up the young new country. There were also many people of varying degrees and types of faith. (Thomas Jefferson wrote his own selective version of the Bible!) If our country's culture has become increasingly degraded (which I believe is a false perception), but if true, perhaps it is because the church has become increasingly detached, irrelevant, and defensive, rather than lovingly engaged, current to God's kingdom plan, and confident in our God's holy love.

We should be transcendently concerned with fixing the health of our churches and families and not with fixing our culture.

Culture, that elusive term, is not so bad in and of itself. Culture is people. And aren't people, the people around us, in our culture, the ones Jesus calls our neighbors? The liberals, the conservatives, the gays, the bigots, the rich, the poor. Christianity, after all, is not independent of its culture. God uses the culture to grow and challenge His church. And he uses healthy, growing Christians to spread life into the culture. The difference is we live blamelessly within our culture, not disdainfully apart from, or even indifferent to, our culture.

Jesus came into His culture and surrounded Himself with the least religious people, and if they let Him, He changed their lives. If America has 'turned its back on God,' it is because the church has turned its back on God's way of touching the world and changing lives.

For more thoughts on what God's way might be like, pick up Blue Like Jazz or Searching for God Knows What. Excellent thoughts, great writing!

1 comment:

  1. O! If I had a daughter as intelligent and gifted as this Sarah Shaffer, I would be such a proud father! To think that someone I loved and raised was able to stir my emotions and spirit to such heights with her thinking and writing would be such exquisite joy! I am most blessed! This lovely brilliant woman IS my daughter! I love you, Sarah