I started reading Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcey and ran across this paragraph in the first chapter:
“We often hear Christians speak about recovering the vitality of the early church. But which aspect of the early church are they thinking about? It’s a safe bet they are not thinking about the way the early church went on the offensive against the dominant intellectual systems of the age. Today’s churches pour their resources into rallies, friendship evangelism, and mercy missions that distribute food and medicine. And these are vital. Yet if they aspire to the dynamic impact of the early church, they must do as it did, learning to address, critique, adapt and overcome the dominant ideologies of our day.”
To engage our culture means that we need to teach people what Scripture says about our culture. We also need to teach people what Scripture says about how to engage our culture.
People flocked to Jesus. He obviously knew how to treat people with respect, even those who the religious leaders treated with contempt.
We are not called to ratchet up the rhetoric in the culture war. We need to see how Jesus used respectful dialog to point people in a different direction.
Jesus shows us that it is possible to be firm on ideas while being loving to those who hold different ones. But this takes work, hard work. Work that few of the churches I’ve attended seemed willing to undertake.
It is so much easier to avoid the discussion by not entering into it through cultural conformity.
Another method of shutting down discussion is to use condemnatory statements and harsh rhetoric. Instead of tearing down walls, this approach reinforces and raises them.
Scripture enjoins us to do neither.