Here’s an interesting question to consider: Is there a best way for a professing Christian to interact with or respond to his or her culture?
To go along with the theme of this blog, I’m thinking of culture as the media created in a particular culture at a particular time. Call it what you will: pop culture, contemporary culture, popular media culture, etc.
Whether it’s in H. Richard Niebhur’s Christ and Culture or Andy Crouch’s Culture Making, you can find a lot of information about how Christians respond to culture. Some Christians withdraw from culture, while some openly attack culture. On the other hand, some Christians mindlessly consumer culture and may even model themselves after culture instead of God.
If you hide from the culture or try to run away from it, you’ll probably have a hard time connecting to others. If you openly attack culture, you’re not going to connect with people very well. If you mindlessly consume culture, you’re not doing any reflecting on how those cultural products affect you. To me, those all seem to be pretty bleak outcomes.
There’s another way, though! Christians can engage discerningly with culture to make people think and maybe create something beautiful in the process.
As this TIME Ideas piece by freelance writer Brandon Ambrosino explains, the apostle Paul was familiar with secular cultural artifacts. At Mars Hill, he used his knowledge of Greek idols to connect with people in Athens and open a conversation about God. Ambrosino sums up the lesson well: “The moral of this anecdote is that Christians who wish to engage with non-Christians must actually engage them and the cultural artifacts they value.” You might even find something beautiful in the culture in the process.
You can go one step further and create culture. If you’re feeling creative, go for it! I’ll leave you with something that author and Christian cultural commentator Andy Crouch said:
As I was thinking about cultural transformation I became convinced that culture changes when people actually make more and better culture. If we want to transform culture, what we actually have to do is to get into the midst of the human cultural project and create some new cultural goods that reshape the way people imagine and experience their world.