Today’s Friday… a good time to collect thoughts from the work week; in a non-moonshine kind of way to do a little distilling.
I was reminded this week how we’re all shaped by unseen forces. Just as the wind breaks down rock, so too we can become broken down by a wind we call culture.
Robert Webber used to say, “The history of the church is a history of being shaped by culture. We speak of influencing the world for God. A realistic assessment of history shows the opposite is true.”
We need to be attentive to at least three culture-related realities:
- Culture is pervasive. Wherever you go culture is all around you. You just can’t get away from culture – you’re immersed in some sort of culture.
- Culture is persistent. Like water torture applying drop-by-drop pressure on its victim’s forehead, culture is always there sending an insidious and relentless message – drop by drop with a detectable spurt popping here and there. Ritual – traditional or contemporary – is one of the most unnoticed culprits lulling us into an unsettling satisfaction.
- Culture is potent. Culture derives its power from more than a single source. In fact, you and I often contribute to culture without even knowing it. We get on bandwagons, buy the latest tunes, and slip into the same speech idioms as those around us. We get caught up in group think – even though we purpose not to.
The surrounding culture seeps into our live’s uncaulked spiritual crevices and cracks. Then, just as freezing water expands inside seemingly impenetrable granite fissures breaking open what seemed secure, our own wisdom replaces real wisdom; our resolve is worn down and our hearts bust open as the surrounding culture’s cool invigorating waters insidiously seep in, cooling our to hearts to the warm touch of the Holy Spirit.
When change is in the air we seem even more susceptible to do it our way. I wish I could say this vulnerability was limited to life outside the church. I can’t.
You see. what I’ve just highlighted are cultural realities in many churches. So much for being counter-cultural. In case you think these words apply only to the worshiping communities known for guitars, drums, and PowerPoint, traditionally-oriented communities suffer from the same tendencies to do the same-old-same-old.
Fortunately, a perfect time to caulk the door and window frames is when a faith community is contemplating change. That’s because part of good change process is to complete an objective and thorough inventory – a no-makeup-show-the-warts cold, hard look in the mirror. Then, move forward with a fissure-less option; as you sing anew together “on Christ the Solid Rock we stand”.
Upon that Rock we are called to detect the undetectable and to live counter-cultural, abundant lives.