culture

3 Ways Christians Can Flourish in Culture

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In a recent post, I explained how culture is a pathway for the gospel. With that in mind, how can Christians flourish in contemporary culture? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Intentionally produce culture.

Christians are part of a wider community. As such, we have the opportunity and responsibility to create culture that advances and echoes the kingdom of God.

In my previous post, I suggested that culture results from two God-given needs – our need to live in community and to communicate. When we consider ways we produce culture, it may be helpful to think in these categories.

  • Community
    We make this world a better place to dwell in. We pursuing God’s peace. As Christians, we strive to develop community expectations that mirror the “one anothers” of scripture — communities that exude peace, love, forgiveness and encouragement. In so doing, we remember that our priority is God’s kingdom not our own.
  • Communication
    We winsomely and clearly communicate the message of the gospel through different cultural means. We create cultural artifacts that demonstrate kingdom priorities.

We should encourage the creation of art, literature, occupations which support and advance the kingdom of God.

2. Prophetically challenge culture.

Not all culture is good. Some aspects of every culture are contrary to God’s character. They make this world a difficult place to live, or they destroy human dignity and diminish our capacity for relationships. As Christians, we boldly speak against such cultural forces and voices that inhibit flourishing.

When we speak, it is important that we are not motivated by our opinions or preferences. Instead, our prophetic voice should also platform the gospel. We should be honest about the hopelessness of life outside God’s will, and we should highlight the hope that is found in Jesus.

3. Look for cultural opportunities to spread the gospel.

We pay attention for cultural openings that provide us with a platform and pathway to proclaim, with our lives and words, that Christ is the only hope for anyone in any human culture.

Communally, we show there is a better way to dwell together. We carve out a new cultural ideal and let the world see. This is what Michael Goheen says about God’s intention for Israel – God intended them to be a light to the nations, showing the blessing and benefits of living Godward.

In our communication, we cannot be silent about the truths of the gospel. It is true that our culture often fights to silence the Christian voice. But Christ alone is our culture’s hope. And, to be frank, a study of culture most exposes our need for hope. Look at your social media feeds, open a newspaper or start a conversation with your waiter.  You’ll quickly see that people need hope — they need a Savior. Look for ways to leverage these cultural artifacts to share the gospel.

Conclusion

How do we as Christians live and flourish in this contemporary culture? We recognize that God has placed us in this place and at this time to be his ambassadors. We live with the recognition that this culture, or any culture, is the soil from with the gospel grows and produces fruit that glorifies our God. And we look for ways to produce culture, confront certain aspects of culture and leverage culture to point people to the truth.

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Scott Hildreth

Scott Hildreth is Assistant Professor of Global Studies at Southeastern Seminary. He also serves as the George Liele Director of the Center for Great Commission Studies.

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