I remember a time in my own life experience when skateboarding was generally looked at as a sign of a troubled life (at least in some conservative circles). Skate parks were known as where the “trouble kids” would hang out. But there were also many who not only looked past some of the punk-like atmosphere, but embraced this crowd as a ministry opportunity. A skateboard suddenly became a way to relate to others and start conversations. In fact, I know one guy who is really good at it!
We’re talking about culture here. There’s so many things in our world that can have a positive side to it, but all we see is the negative. A positive ministry many churches are having is called Trunk or Treat, held on Halloween. You decorate your car trunks and families can get candy in a safe and controlled environment. But some people are can’t get past the fact the Halloween has its tradition in spirit-worship. So you have a choice: do you allow this night to go by or do you claim your freedom in Christ and use the evening to show the love of Jesus to others?
When it comets new facets of our culture, we Christians can get pretty crazy, right? We hear about something new, and we go to the extreme. It’s either a brilliant idea that we throw ourselves at whole-heartedly, or we see it as the spawn of the devil and shun it altogether.
When it comes to new trends and fads, we need to ask ourselves this question: can all things be used for good?
Here’s some qualifiers.
- Is it permissible? Yes. Paul said in his letter to the Colossians “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in question of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17).
All things belong to Christ. You won’t look better before God because you didn’t go to that party or you ate a certain food on a certain day. You are justified before God because of Jesus Christ’s righteousness.
- Is it good for me? Simple questions require straightforward answers. If it’s bad for you, then don’t do it. Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Can all things be used for evil? Yes. But if something that isn’t has a strong chance of tempting you to sin, get rid of it. Cut if off, burn it, throw it in the trash, and then burn the trash.
- Is it good for others? Does this cause others to stumble? For example, would it be right to share the gospel in the slums while wearing a tux? Would it be good to bring a beer with you while you help others at AA?
This is a difficult subject to work through, and this blog post certainly doesn’t contain all the answers. But I hope that you start to look at things through the lens of a simple question: Can I claim this for Christ, and still keep my testimony?
It’s a tricky business trying to be culturally relevant while also obeying our Lord’s commands not to hurt ourselves. But let me encourage you not to shun away from trying new things. Be bold! Claim the culture for Christ.