Okay, I’m going to give you 6 principles to follow that will always show you exactly when to engage culture and when to withdraw from it. Get ready to write this down because this is going to change your life and make your Christian walk so much easier.
Actually, no I’m not. I don’t think such a list is possible (you were so hoping weren’t you) and if it was I wouldn’t be the one who knew it. I believe Christians hinder our witness with others and our relationship to God when we think everything can be boiled down to “6 simple steps,” especially when it comes to relating to culture.
I wrote about what I call “traditional relevance” because I think it presents the biblical picture of being in the world, but not of the world, as Jesus prayed, or salt and light, as He put it in the Sermon on the Mount.
The way to achieve that balance is not through a formula driven approach to Christianity, but through constantly developing and growing our relationship with Christ. He told us that we would bear much fruit when we stay connected to Him.
It’s so easy to set up formulas and set approaches for living our Christian life. That’s why legalism and liberalism are so easy and dangerous. It’s easy to accept or reject everything that comes down the pipe. The liberalism formula looks at virtually everything as being acceptable and wraps “love” around it. “The reason why we should water down the Gospel is because we love the sinners.” The legalistic formula rejects almost everything and wraps the word “holiness” around it. “The reason why we don’t do anything new is because we are trying to stay holy and set apart.”
When you live that way you have no need for your relationship to Jesus. You’ve got it all figured out before you even crack open a Bible or hit your knees. Your formula will tell you exactly how to deal with any and every situation you encounter. Like with my post about MySpace. The liberal formula says to just let your kids do whatever they want online because they are their own individual and you are just trying to “love” them. The legalistic formula says that Christians should never be on MySpace or anything of the sort because we might get too close to sinful people who will defile us.
It’s hard work being traditional relevant. Not that I would know too much about it because I struggle trying to find out how to do it myself. Being a Christian is hard. Get over it. We have to work at our relationship with Jesus and make that, not some formula, the primary focus of our lives. You won’t always get it right, but your relationship with Christ will grow stronger and that will help you the next time.
Anytime you have a choice, choose relationship over formula.