Christians are called to be reconcilers. But that’s not an easy task in a culture that’s becoming increasingly antagonistic toward biblical truth.
“The cultural moment that we live in is putting a lot of pressure on Christian conviction,” said John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, to attendees of the 2019 N.C. Baptist Disciple-Making Conference on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at Green Street Baptist Church in High Point.
“But please keep in mind that the cultural moment is just that — it’s only a moment. It’s not the story.”
Scripture reveals God’s story, which is the story of human history. And one can never properly understand the moment apart from the story.
“Our temptation to escape comes from standing in the moment and rethinking the story,” Stonestreet said. “We can’t really think well about culture unless we begin by grounding ourselves in the eternal truths of the grand sweeping narrative revealed in the pages of Scripture.”
“Cultural engagement is part of discipleship.”
Stonestreet shared four truths for believers to remember as they seek to engage the culture around them.
- Christ is risen.
The truth that Christ is risen can provide us with the same hope today that it provided the apostles in their day. For example, the Book of Philippians is about joy, but the apostle Paul wrote it from prison. The apostle Peter’s first epistle is about hope, but it’s written in the context of persecution. “Biblical hope is not ‘hope for’ .… It’s not hope for something to change,” Stonestreet said. “Biblical hope is ‘hope in’ .… It’s not dependent at all on the circumstance. It’s completely dependent on this reality — that Christ is risen.”
- Christ is Lord.
Because Christ is risen, Christ is Lord, Stonestreet said. Peter connected these truths during his sermon at Pentecost. Often today, when people say, “Christ is Lord,” what they usually mean is “Christ is Lord of my life.” Yet when the apostles and early followers of Jesus said, “Christ is Lord,” they meant, “Christ is Lord, period.”“In other words, whether you think He’s Lord is irrelevant,” Stonestreet said. “He is Lord.” One of the great discipleship challenges of our time is that we live in an age of competing information that all claim to be authoritative. “This is not just a personal statement of conviction,” Stonestreet said. “It’s a revolutionary statement to say — much like the first followers of Jesus — ‘Christ is risen. Christ is Lord.’”
- Christ will make all things new.
The grand narrative of Scripture is moving toward Christ making all things new, Stonestreet said. “(In Revelation 21:5) John quotes Jesus as saying, ‘Behold, I am making all things new,’” Stonestreet said. “That’s where the story is going.”
- God determined that we would live in this moment.
It’s not an accident that we are living in this cultural moment, Stonestreet said, noting that the apostle Paul in Acts 17 tells us that God determines the exact times that people would live and the boundaries of their dwelling places. “God wanted us to live in this time and in this place and not in another time and another place,” Stonestreet said. “God actually gives us our cultural moment and does not put us in another cultural moment. Paul goes on to say that the reason He does what He does is so that people would reach out to Him and find Him.” God saves us and reconciles us to make us into a reconciler who practices the ministry of reconciliation, Stonestreet said. “Not only do we have to do this in the context of the challenges of our cultural moment,” Stonestreet said. “He actually wants us to do it in the context of the challenges of this cultural moment (as part of) His sovereign will for our lives.”
Stonestreet concluded by offering four gospel-centered questions for individuals and churches to ask about culture as they seek to engage it. They were:
- What’s good that we can promote, celebrate and preserve?
- What’s missing that we can contribute?
- What’s evil that we can stop?
- What’s broken that we can restore?
Discipleship involves determining how God wants to use you to engage culture and live out your faith wherever God has placed and called you, Stonestreet said.
“Cultural engagement is part of discipleship,” Stonestreet said. “We’ve got to address the culture in which we live, and we’ve got to do it with clarity and we’ve got to do it with understanding.”
“It’s not an option. It’s where God has called and placed His followers to be.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a two-part series from the 2019 N.C. Baptist Disciple-Making Conference. Part one is available here.
Chad Austin / Communications / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina