At East Liverpool (Ohio) High School, it was recently announced that commencement would no longer include Mozart’s “Requiem Mass,” Handel’s “Messiah” or “The Lord’s Prayer” — all because an atheist group complained about these 70-year-old traditions.
These types of stories are discouraging, to say the least. But there is a little bit more to this story that I think you will enjoy.
You see, graduating seniors at the school decided to take matters into their own hands, voluntarily standing during the ceremony to recite the Lord’s Prayer together, in defiance of the decision to ban it.
I think, as Christians, we can learn a lot from these young people. They were unafraid to confront their culture of antagonism toward God that had invaded their school. And they joined together to do what they saw as the right thing.
You might ask a question that I think a lot of Christians ask, which is this: How can I really engage the culture?
That’s actually a good question. First, I realize that not everyone can be a Jerry Falwell or Billy Graham who appear on TV to directly confront the national culture for Christ. However, we all have cultures in which we live. So let’s take a look at Five Key Ways in which we can be involved for Christ in a positive manner within our work culture, our family culture and our community culture.
1. Be willing. Being a servant of Christ should be costing you something and we should joyfully be willing to pay the price of serving Him. It is only costly for us, though, when we are speaking out for Him. Being willing sometimes places us in unusual situations, but when we depend on Christ and His Word to direct our path (Psalm 119:105), we have nothing to fear. Being willing is half the battle … God will work out the rest. The cultures of our families and our communities are starving for Christians to be willing proclaimers of God’s Truth.
2. Be prayerful. Ask God to fill you with His wisdom and to give you the desire to speak out for Him. Spend time in deep prayer for your family, focusing on those who need to follow Jesus or return to Him. Even when they tell you they don’t want to hear about Jesus, ask the Lord to lead you so that you can be an effective witness for Him … even in circumstances where it appears doors have closed. Remember, even Jesus needed prayer to empower Him, so we must be dependent on prayer to invigorate us.
3. Be humble. Have you noticed how loud and over-the-top our culture is? Christians need to reflect the gentle tone of Jesus when having conversations, especially when the topic is the Bible or how God relates to the present day. We need to show that we are different, filled with and led by the Spirit of God. To be an effective witness, we need to be allowing Christ to be the primary focus of our lives.
4. Be forgiving. Forgiveness is a very powerful force. If someone has chastised you because of your faith in Christ, don’t hold it against them. Be kind to them or even do something nice for them. Let them know that nothing they do or say can stop you from loving them and wanting them to have the fullness of life in Christ that you know. Engage them with love.
5. Be yourself. There’s no greater way to introduce Jesus into a conversation than to tell others what He has done for you. Your story is unique and the ways in which the Lord has impacted your life make up a distinctive and wonderful story. Just be yourself and ask God to bless your efforts to reach people for Him.
Engaging the cultures of our lives is a commitment that we must recognize every day. Often times, we are the only link to Christ that people have, so we cannot give up on them. We must be patient and prayerful as we seek God’s wisdom to make us effective witnesses for Him.
I recently read an article in which a pastor said we should “engage, not enrage, the culture.” That is wise counsel. I know how frustrating it can be to witness to people who are antagonistic toward the Gospel. But we must be engagers — not “enragers.” That’s why the Five Key Ways I have cited in this letter are important. Following these suggestions prepares our hearts to be representatives of the One who compels us to be His voice.
Benjamin Franklin said in 1771, “Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.” That is how we should approach our effort to impact our culture for Christ.
Finally, dear friends, I want to thank you for the encouragement of your friendship.
Your commitment to this ministry serves to hearten my spirit and I appreciate you more than you will ever know. In turn, I hope that my monthly messages and Bible studies serve to encourage you in your walk with Christ. Our world needs Christians to be bold engagers of their cultures so that we can win people to Him. That’s all that really matters in this world!
Your friend in Christ,