I’ve been recently thinking about how we define our church culture. Only recently has this even been something of importance to me. I have always just been taught that the words “church” and “culture” don’t ever go together. Because we are to be “in” the world, not “of” the world. But lately, I can’t seem to get those two words separated. And I understand about that whole “in” and “of” the world thing. This is totally a different, deeper thing though. Here’s a quote I read sometime ago that has recapitulated itself in my head.
(Yes. I just used a musical term for repeating a phrase in a Sonata-form piece):
Culture is: “…the sum total of the ways we express ourselves and relate to each other in the institutions we build to express ourselves and relate to each other”. -Ron Martoia
The church is supposed to be salt and light in the community, right? We shouldn’t band ourselves in our buildings. Packing ourselves in our huge and mighty fortresses and castles, warding off “evil” is not our purpose. Shouldn’t we instead use our minds to embrace the grace and truth that is the Gospel message and have dialogue and build intentional relationships with those searching for it?
I believe we must engage the battle as soldiers, not willing to retreat, with the full armor of God.
The bible says this in Eph. 6:10-13:
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
It clearly says “…for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…” I think many times the church misunderstands that to be that we are fighting against “flesh and blood”. Against each other. Against those who aren’t Christ followers. The church cannot impact culture by condemning it…we must show love and compassion, as Jesus did, only then will they see God’s grace and mercy.
(But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum? When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy,
not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” -Matt. 9:11-12)
Do you ever wonder the reason Joseph was a carpenter? I mean why was Jesus’ earthly father a carpenter? Why not a fisherman? or a herdsman? a merchant? or even a doctor? Is there something there for us to see?
I thought about this and came to this (sort of) conclusion….
My grandfather is a carpenter. He makes tables, chairs, desks, boats, and even birdhouses. He can make what other specify they want, and also takes those chairs and tables and molds the idea into something original. But he also creates beautiful original things. He is extremely talented and has always enjoyed what he does. He’s a craftsman. An artisan.
Maybe God wanted us to look at our lives through the eyes of an carpenter…an artisan for a reason. Maybe with our lives we are artisans, but instead of showing off what ‘we’ create….we are displaying the creativity of God. Each of us are different and unique and through those differences in each of us God is glorified! I think the point is for us not to retreat or withdraw from culture…but to shape it through the story of Jesus.
What are your thoughts? Am I completely thinking too much or is this something you all have ever thought about as well?