Saturday, July 02, 2005

Foolishness to the Greeks #1

I've begun another chapter in the never-ending discussion of Christ and culture over in the Emerging Leaders Forum and thought I'd post some comments here as well. We are reading Newbigin's 'Foolishness to the Greeks', which begins propositionally with the question "What would be involved in a missionary encounter between the gospel and Western culture?"
As conservative Evangelicals, we are often unaware of the cultural conditioning of our 'religion' and, therefore guilty of confusing the Gospel with the 'American Way'. Most of the time it slips under our radar and, I think, is done subconsciously. (e.g. God always favors the white collar, Left Behind-reading, bumpersticker-touting, WWJD bracelet-wearing Americans who vote Republican....right?)

{quickly moving on before the rants begin...}

First, we have to define culture. Newbigin defines it as the sum total of ways of living developed by a group of human beings and handed on from generation to generation. This includes language (because it is the vehicle for expression and perception), visual and musical arts, tehcnologies, law, social and political organization, and religion.

Of course, given this definition, the Gospel is always contextualized...either consciously or subconsciously. He states that there can never be a time when the Gospel is not embodied in a culturally conditioned form of words. The idea that the 'pure gospel' could be presented as unadulterated by culture is absurd. Bottom line: the gospel is the Word made flesh. Thus, there cannot be a culture-free gospel.

Interesting point from Chapter 1: In Acts 26, Paul recounts to his Greek-speaking critics that God spoke to him....not in Greek, but in Hebrew, the language of his home and heart, his mother tongue. And it is his native language that God uses to convict Paul that his life must turn around, a radical metanoia. What Paul thought of service to God was actually fighting against God.

His native language is used by God to convict him.

I only have one question: Has God ever used Pearl Jam or Metallica or Dave Matthews to convict you?

Any thoughts?

Los Días Locos del Verano

[i.e. 'The Crazy Days of Summer' para sus gringos!]

Just a friendly note to those of you who keep an eye here from time to time. This month (July) will be insanely crazy: middle school camp, mexico mission trip, church activities, and getting back on the horse of my nutrition/exercise regime.

I will try to post a couple of times each week, but that may be about it...thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Finding God Where You Least Expect Him

My neighbors [all brothers] are in a Tejano salsa-merengue band. They are not Christ-followers, but are truly great guys. We have a pretty surface relationship: they bring my boys candy on Halloween and Cinco de Mayo and I mow part of their yard every couple of weeks. Nice guys.

This morning 'Tony' stops me on the way to work. He's washing his little black Mercedes. We exchange 'good mornings', chat about the heat, then he asks me about my job.

"So, you work with teenagers, right? "
"Are they good ones, or ones that have been in trouble?"
"Um, a little of both I guess. Why?"
"Man, I really need a cause like that in my life right now. I'm really tired of all the crap in the music business. You know, the bars and stuff. I mean, The Oasis and The Pier are cool places to play, but all the others are pretty rough..."

Back up.
Did he say he needed a cause? Talk about 'out of the blue'...

So I quickly whipped out my FAITH outline and started with the 'have-you-ever-had-a-life-changing-experience' question, pulled out my WWJD bracelet, stuffed a Four Spiritual Laws tract in his yellow Polo t-shirt pocket and.....

No, wait. That wasn't me.

Maybe it should've been. I stood there stunned, thinking, praying, "Dude. This guy knows I'm a minister. He knows where I work, what I do, and he's telling me he needs a cause in his life? Um...."

So we talked. About real things. Problems with his kids. His girlfriend. The expense of car repairs and mortgages. Then he says, "Hey, we're practicing Thursday night and cooking some BBQ outside afterwards. I wrote a couple of songs and we need another guitarist...can you come over and jam with us? Maybe hang out and eat afterwards? "

I'm there. I'd love to jam with them (I love salsa music). I definitely love to eat. I'd also love for him to know the God that has overwhelmed me with His grace. If we can find a sitter, Heather and I will go to The Oasis Sunday night and listen to them play.

Maybe I should have presented the Roman Road.

Maybe I should continue to cut his grass when he's not looking.

Or....maybe he's been looking all along and I didn't know it.