Cultural Relevance, Lost and Regained
[Reading time: 3 minutes] I’m convinced we wouldn’t be facing most of America’s national and social issues today if we, the church, had been serving as we should have for the past 100 years.
America began as a secular nation based on Judeo-Christian principles and Christians were instrumental in creating schools, hospitals and agencies that addressed people’s needs and social issues. But we began relying on government to fulfill our Christian social responsibilities and we settled for a culture in which we enjoyed religious freedom with minimal direct responsibilities. By substituting a human-centered government for God, we aspired to take care of everyone’s human needs through government agencies and programs, free of any religious context.
We were content to “have church,” to attend Sunday service and “say grace” at meals. In essence, we created a subculture and withdrew from secular society and politics because we thought that was the “godly” thing to do.
As a result, Christianity became increasingly irrelevant to our culture and to people’s lives.
Our current attitudes are evidence we’ve missed the point. We feel concerned or even outraged, for example, when secular school systems and government agencies don’t want the Ten Commandments, Christmas nativity displays, and references to God on their property. Yet our efforts to introduce God’s kingdom into people’s lives to meet their obvious needs are negligible. We rely on government agencies to meet people’s needs, then we grumble about their ineffectiveness or their humanistic methods.
We fail to realize the most effective way to influence or change a society is by transforming individual lives, beginning with our own. It involves spiritual salvation, lifelong discipleship, application of biblical principles, and development of a relationship with God that affects absolutely every aspect of the person’s life, and we need to begin with ourselves. We change a nation one person at a time, making God and his kingdom relevant to their real and perceived needs until they are willing to commit their lives to the God we serve. Then we can help them discover and fulfill their God-given destiny, while providing the support they need to do so.
I believe the extreme cultural and political transformation toward secularism happening in our country now is just the next logical step. The church has proved its societal incompetence and irrelevance, so the government naturally must care for people who need help and set cultural standards, resulting in a wholesale rejection of Judeo-Christian principles.
Should we expect anything different?
We Christians can’t keep abdicating and viewing our government as the answer. Yes, we must continue voting and promoting our values to our elected representatives. But that effort must be secondary to our commission, which is to make disciples of Jesus, serve people and destroy our spiritual enemy’s works.
We mustn’t abdicate our responsibility to serve people as God’s representatives, and we dare not entrust that responsibility to any government agency or political party. Doing so is irresponsible.
If we, the church, fulfilled our spiritual and social responsibilities as God’s representatives, we would regain our cultural relevance and wouldn’t have to rely on secular government to take care of people.