The Well currently in a season of highlighting the idea of what does it mean to not serve on a day, but to serve God every day. We call this "Serve Dei." To learn more about Serve Dei visit the Serve Dei Website.
As we become disciples of Jesus Christ, an important question arises in our journey. How am I to interact with the world around me? It is a question the Israelites also had to wrestle with while they were exiled in Babylon. They had to figure out how to live out their faith in a foreign context.
The Israelite false prophets presented one answer. They promised that God would destroy Babylon (Jeremiah 28) and told the Israelites to completely isolate themselves from the culture around them - to live outside of the city and stay within their own little “holy huddle.”
The Babylonians also had an answer. They wanted the Israelites to imitate them - to embrace their beliefs and values. We see this play out in the book of Daniel. The Babylonians changed Daniel’s name and wanted him to become “one of them” (Daniel 1).
God had a different vision for Israel. God told them to be Culturally Engaged...
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters... But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
God wanted the Israelites to live amongst the Babylonians and seek the well being of the city, not isolate themselves from it. However, God wanted them to still retain their distinct identity as the “people of God” and not imitate the Babylonians. That is why He told them to “pray to the Lord.”
We see a similar idea in Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Jesus prays for His disciples, who are in the world but “not of the world” (John 17:15-16).
How can we, as believers, not isolate ourselves from culture or imitate it, but instead engage culture?
On a practical level, there are different factors that influence and create culture. Here are the seven dominant ones, also known as the “7 Pillars of Culture.”
Arts and Entertainment
These sectors influence our society and build our culture. And every one of us is involved in some of these sectors.
Which pillars of culture are you involved in?
What would it look like for you to engage culture in that sector?
Who can you link arms with to engage that aspect of culture?
Will we isolate ourselves from the culture by forming a “holy huddle?” Will we imitate culture by embracing the same beliefs, hopes and values? Or will we become culturally engaged by “seeking the welfare of the city,” in which God has placed us?