Thursday, April 12, 2007

Culture and Community

"...reformission evangelism is about seeing the many real needs of people in the culture and realizing that our kindest gift is to connect them to Jesus and his people. To do so, we must delve into the culture to understand the real needs of people..."
Mark Driscoll, from 'Radical Reformission'

How well do you know the needs of the culture? How connected are you to the culture? My guess, if you're really honest, is not to well. You're probably a lot like me. I hear that people are lonely, depressed, suicidal, etc., etc., but unless the people struggling with those emotions come to me and ask for help, they remain just a stat.

I'm not an evangelist. I don't have the gift of evangelism. I'd rather someone else tell unbelievers about Jesus and if they want to know more, then I'm very happy to step in and use my giftings. But to go to strangers, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members who aren't already believers and tell them that they have a problem without them admitting it, that's tough.

I know people need Jesus, but do I, or you for that matter, really believe they need Jesus. Is my belief that they need Jesus more intellectual assent, or is it heartfelt, proactive, engaging culture, life altering belief. Like seeing someone asleep in a burning building. All of us would try and wake such a person. So why don't we share our faith? Aren't people in a burning building called the human body. Isn't sin a death promoting thick smoke, that if inhaled too long, dulls the conscience and lures people into a sleep that they're unable to awaken themselves from?

I enjoy seeing people change their lives based on the word of God and coming to know Jesus. I love teaching the word of God, and helping those interested, and sometimes those not so interested, come to see the blueprint for our lives when it comes to issues of marriage, parenting, family life, masculinity, chivalry, etc. But I know God wants me to do more for those are His, but don't know it yet.

I recently listened to a message from a Pastor speaking to church leaders and potential church planters about how the mission of the church is to continue the work that Jesus began during His earthly ministry. In Mark ch.1 wee see Jesus proclaiming to all people that the time was fulfilled and the kingdom of God was at hand. He then urged people to repent and believe in the gospel. What he does next directly relates to us. While walking along the sea shore He sees Simon and Andrew casting their nets in the sea of Galilee for their daily bread. Jesus walks up to them, without knowing them, and tells them to follow Him, and He would make them become fishers of men.

If Jesus is a King, and he said the kingdom of heaven was at hand, I wonder, did Jesus leave the kingdom here on earth, or did He take it back with Him when He ascended back to heaven? If it's still here, what are we suppose to be doing with it?

Paul answers the question about the kingdom in Colossians 1:13 when he says of God; "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:." So we see that the kingdom is still here. What about us? What are to do with this kingdom? We are to populate the kingdom. A King reigns over a kingdom. And the more powerful the king, the bigger the kingdom. Well how do we populate the kingdom? The Gospel! The way we populate the kingdom is by dragging the net of the gospel in the sea of culture in an effort to catch the fish that belong to God.

Remember what happened when Jesus told Simon to cast his nets in the same waters that had yielded him very little fish in all day fishing expo. When Simon finally did what Jesus had asked, he caught so many fish that he couldn't retrieve them all. When Jesus says to cast the net, don't worry about the catch!

So maybe the people around us that are sick and dying are in fact just waiting to be caught. You and I were caught weren't we? Thank God the fishermen around us weren't afraid to cast their nets. The best fishermen are the ones who don't mind getting wet and smelly. If you're expecting a large catch, expect to smell fishy. And the only way to smell fishy is by handling a lot of fish.

We all need Jesus.

We need Jesus in our homes, our marriages, our singleness, our parenting, our jobs, our hearts, our minds, our education, our ministries, our lives. We need him to define to us what life really is. Then we need to tell that to the culture. We need to live that in our homes. We need to live that in our relationships. We need to raise our kids to become that. We need to arrange our families to reflect that. We need to let our lifestyles proclaim that.

If Jesus is going to be attractive to unbelievers, shouldn't he be proactive in us? Or do we just play church on Sundays? His Lordship must rule and reign in every area of our lives. When it does, we begin to experience life as God intended. And when we begin to experience that, we can then begin to have an effect on our culture.

So go ahead and delve into culture like Driscoll says to. The culture of loneliness all around you needs the message that you have!