This was a special holy week in Central Illinois (or, as I like to call it, the Morton Pumpkin Festival). People trek in from all across the country to see the largest parade in downstate Illinois, eat pumpkin ice cream, ride the Tilt-a-Whirl (or bumper cards, whichever is more your speed), and generally have a lot of fun. Yes, we got drenched by the downpour on Friday night -- but that just made the lines for the pork chop sandwiches that much shorter...
Here at First Covenant Church, we met to discuss the upcoming Missions Trip to Haiti in the Spring. So if you’re still interested in going but weren’t able to make that meeting, the next one will be on October 17th (or just talk with someone on the Missions Team and they’ll catch you back up to speed). It’s a joy to be able to step out of our comfort zones and out of our familiar cultures to be able to share the Gospel in tangible ways.
Then again, you and I don’t have to cross national boundaries to share the Gospel. I guarantee that there are people in your life -- at your job, in your building, on the bus near you, etc. -- that have never really stopped to think about what you and I can so easily take for granted. Can you step out of your comfort zone and still be an ambassador within your own culture?
Then again (again), you don’t really have to step much of anywhere to cross cultural boundaries. Many of us adults grew up in a very different culture from the one that we see around us on an everyday basis. I’m not talking about different languages (though a lot of the vocabulary can be off-puttingly alien to some of our older brothers and sisters), nor even a different race -- I’m talking about how our own American culture has shifted over the years around us.
As we discussed in our message this week, we’ve moved from a culture that prizes accurate facts to a culture that prizes self-esteem. In our post-modern mindset, there is no “capital-T Truth” out there... so why should accuracy matter? Of course, that means that there is also no absolute standard to use in deciding the right courses of action, the right morality, the right religion, etc. In fact, even using the term “right” in those contexts tends to offend the people around us (because who am I -- and who are you -- to decide what might be “right” for someone else?). If there is no objective standard, then everyone ends up deciding truth, morality, religion, etc., for themselves. In this respect, our culture closely resembles the same culture that we’ve been talking about in the Book of Judges -- when “Everyone did as he saw fit” in his own eyes.
As one youth pastor once told me, being “real” with one another is more important than knowing “truth,” since truth is such a malleable thing anyway.
So as Christians, we need to not only share the Gospel, but to exegete our own culture. We need to be “real” (which the post-modernists are healthily looking for) as we share “truth” (which they are unhealthily unconcerned about), and we need to do so “with gentleness and respect” when we do.