the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:22-23).
Evangelical Christians believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is an unchanging message. We believe all of God’s Word is absolute truth. It is not a message bound by the culture of its origin; it is not a relativistic commun-ication searching for meaning within contemporary culture. The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the unchanging Word of God and it is never subject to the whims of Man.
At the same time, Christians must use wisdom in the delivery of God’s truth to their existing culture. We need to understand how to apply biblical truth and how to present it.
For instance, the Bible tells us, if you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it (Exodus 23:5). Without a doubt, this passage is Scripture …given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Yet, In order to apply the passage we need to understand it: consider the context, the significance of the passage in the original context and then make application to our own day. Even without going through the whole process here, it should be clear how this eternal truth guides us in the modern age. In short, this passage tells us to express love to our neighbor - indeed our enemy - even when it is a difficult proposition. Thus, if we see our enemy’s car on the side of the road with a flat tire, the Bible tells us we should pull over hand lend a hand.
The section of Scripture cited at the beginning of this article provides an example of how the word of God may be presented in order to reach a contemporary culture. Again, the truth is not compromised; the truth is “packaged” in a way that is understandable to the culture of interest.
This is the challenge of the twenty-first century Church: how do we present God’s unchanging truth to the meta-modern world? I’ll conclude this series with a just two ideas.
First, the Church should address the meta-modern desire for a character driven narrative. One of the things I have encountered in my own ministry is a thirst for fame for fame’s sake on the part of many young people. There is a belief that everyone and anyone can become famous (and thereby rich) simply by existing in the digital domain. The Church must boldly proclaim that the only true path to significance is death to self and life in Christ. But we need to do this even as we tell people they can have a hand in writing the Grand Adventure, the Great Cosmic Drama of the universe. We need to tell them God is the ultimate Author of history - and he invites us to participate in the writing of history as one of his redeemed. We must tell them that reality is God’s domain but each of us can have a role in that realm that has true meaning, purpose and worth.
We also need to learn how to package the truth in a way that will be received by the world. Just as Paul took notice of the character of Athens, we need to take notice of the character of the meta-modern age. Christians should be on the cutting edge of the digital dissemination of truth. Pod casts, videos, on the spot reporting; we need to provide truth with a punch. In depth discipleship is still required but we can lead-in with meta-modern trends and be a vibrant part of popular culture.