March 5, 2018

Priorities Series: Cultural Transformation

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NOTE FROM LUMINEX: This is the eighth and final entry in our “Priorities” series. Today’s post is on Cultural Transformation, and comes from Don Poest, Interim General Secretary for the Reformed Church in America. Enjoy!

“Transformed and Transforming is something the Holy Spirit has called the Reformed Church in America to do.  It is a call to live and love like Jesus more intentionally.  In short, T & T is the RCA’s vision for ministry over the next several years.  It pushes us to think about what it means for churches to be thriving, missional and culturally relevant—and then act on those ideas.”

Those are the introductory words in a brochure I bring with me when visiting churches.  It’s a good brochure highlighting the valuable, Spirit-inspired vision that our RCA staff is helping to enact on a daily basis.

But from my vantage point too many of us and our churches are being transformed by the culture rather than being agents of God sent to transform it.  Our shrill, bombastic political culture too often invades our denominational culture.  Our attitudes toward other churches and denominations are more reflective of American independence than covenant theology.  Too often we see ourselves more as representatives of a theological subset than as ambassadors for Christ.

What helps me in my own self-examination is to look at and learn from the examples given to us in scripture.  When God called Abram to go, we’re told that he went – into an unknown future and unknown cultures.  How willing and obedient am I to go beyond my comfort zones?

When practicing his faith meant risking it all, Daniel never hesitated.  Do I ever keep my faith hidden because doing so helps me fit in better?

When power and position afforded King David an opportunity for an affair, he jumped at it.  Do I want my status to lead to self-satisfaction, or to leading others for Jesus’ sake?

Esther used her privileged position to rescue God’s people from disaster, knowing that doing so could cost her not only her position, but her life.  How much am I willing to risk personally for the sake of God’s people?

Jesus often stood against Jewish customs and religious culture to show that his Father’s kingdom operated by different values.  Am I willing to stand against church culture and our religious kingdoms for the sake of God’s reign today?

Paul walked through Athens not as a tourist, but as a student seeking to learn more about this culture in which he was ministering.  Do I hide inside the walls of the church, or do I go out into my community as a student of it, seeking connecting points that will give the gospel message more credibility?

When we think about how to transform culture we usually focus on what we must do.  I suspect we might be more effective if we focused on who we must be.  I must be salt and light.  I must be an ambassador for King Jesus.  I must be God’s beloved child.  I must be a servant.  I must be a humble student.  It is only when I am willing to be thriving, missional and culturally relevant that God can show me how to act on those ideas.  When, and only when, I am truly willing for the Holy Spirit to transform me will I be ready to live as an agent of transformation in the culture(s) in which God has placed me.

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