What does it look like to engage culture?
Merely studying culture is not enough. Jesus not only observed Jerusalem and was broken to the point of tears over it; he entered the city and died for it (Luke 19:41).
Jesus’ call goes beyond studying Scripture and culture—we must enter into the world around us. Studying Scripture and culture should make us people with broken, compassionate, and truth-filled hearts who raise our voices, speaking the truth in love in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, workplaces, gyms, coffee shops, and just about everywhere we go.
Know that God’s mission is costly.
MISSION IS COSTLY FOR A REASON
Pastor Mark Driscoll has said on a number of occasions that good missionaries do four things: go, see, feel, and do.
As you consider the nature of the mission to which God has called every Christian, know that it is costly. Certain things and experiences are valuable to you for a reason. They cost. You have to dig for diamonds, drill for oil, and pray for rain. Mission is like that. Expensive.
However, God isn’t asking you to do something that he hasn’t already done himself. He sent his Son into extreme poverty (2 Cor. 8:9) to face rejection by his own people (John 1:11) and ultimately suffer an excruciating death on a Roman cross (Mark 15:24). God’s mission cost him the most.
Lost people will very likely interrupt your life.
MISSION IS EXPENSIVE, INCONVENIENT, AND UNCOMFORTABLE
Here are just three places where mission affects our lives.
Do you budget to go to ball games, concerts, and out to eat with folks who don’t know Jesus? If you’re on mission, plan financially.
Have you noticed that those who don’t know Jesus oftentimes find themselves asking the deep questions of life well after the 9:00–5:00 workday? Considering following: Jesus usually isn’t done on a whim. Lost people call in the middle of the night or on the weekend. They will very likely interrupt your life.
Mission means that many times you end up in uncomfortable places, around people worshiping their gods, not your God, esteeming the world’s values, not what you read in the Bible, and loving themselves, rather than loving God and neighbor. So, that means mission is going to be uncomfortable.
BEFORE HE FOUND YOU
Yet, the stories, lifestyles, and decisions made by those who don’t know Jesus aren’t totally foreign to Christians. As Christians, we don’t judge unbelievers because we were just like them (Eph. 2:3). We now have a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17) and new desires (Gal. 5:17), and a new mind (Rom. 12:2). However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t remember what it was like to be lost. It also doesn’t mean that we aren’t tempted.; it does mean that we do engage the world around us!
If you’re OK with studying your city through the lens of the gospel but find yourself reluctant to engage it because of fear, anxiety, or laziness, here’s a word of encouragement:
Christian, do you remember what life was like before Jesus found you? Do you remember what that was like putting your head on the pillow night after night when the TV was turned off, phone wasn’t ringing, and everyone had gone home? Do you remember when it was just you and God in that stillness?
Personally, for me, the greatest motivation for being on mission is simply remembering what is what like to be lost and then savoring the joy of being found.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.