Pastor's Blog
September 28, 2018, 12:00 AM

From the Pastor - October 1, 2018

Dear friends,
The October calendar has been out for a a few weeks now, and most of you have noticed that youth are NOT meeting for three of the five Wednesdays in October.  I do want to offer a little of the reasoning behind my decision.
A brilliant theologian, H. Richard Niebuhr, wrote a short book about how Christians relate to the culture around them. In Christ and Culture, he sets out three basic patterns for this interaction: 1) Christ against culture, 2) Christ of culture, and 3) Christ above culture. You may strongly identify with one of these ideas, or you may see some of each of them in the way you follow Jesus.
In the first pattern, Christ against culture, one sees Christians taking a stand against culture. This may have some roots in the various holiness movements that have been a part of the church's history. The word "Holy" literally mans to be set apart as, in our case, for God. What could be more holy, more set apart, than making a conscious decision to be different than the culture around us? The Amish people may be our closest highly visible community that seems to be living this way. One problem that occurs is that in rejecting culture and radically living against it, you can still miss Christ.
The second pattern, Christ of culture, occurs when there is a dominant Christian theme in the national and cultural fabric. The Christian empire of Constantine as well as the American culture of the middle of the last century are good examples of this. In these lands, and with this model, Jesus is everywhere but sometimes seems to have no transformative power to change the culture let alone the individual. There are national and Christian symbols intertwined, and there is a deep assumption that God not only has blessed the culture but will assure continued dominance. One pitfall with this model is that when Christ and culture become one in the same then it is easy to assume that anything we do is automatically the Christian, biblical and right thing to be doing. Prayer and bible study can fall by the wayside as we sit in what we are certain is the center of God's will.
The third pattern, Christ above culture, has been the position that the church has occupied for most of its life. In this model, Christ is seen as more important than in the culture the church lives. When there is conflict between the two, Christ wins both in our lives and in the world. In this pattern, Christians do not need to fear culture as something that can corrupt or conquer Christ. We do not need to shy away from engaging the culture or worry that our faith will fail in the face of the world.
Personally and professional, I have always held to the third pattern. I see the benefit in being flexible with our program scheduling in order to engage our world.  When the church moves beyond it's physical walls, it's a win-win situation. The church wins when it sees that Christ is the victor, and the world wins when it gets to see Christians living out their faith beyond the walls of the church!
In God's Grip,
Pastor Mark


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