A buzzword in certain Christian circles is authenticity, a quality both Millennials and GenZs value and desire in the church. The word suggests genuineness and integrity, qualities that describe faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. But this drive for authenticity can be dangerous, if it isn't grounded in the gospel. The...
God’s work of creation reveals His character and radiance. In his creative self-expression, God reveals his eternal love and his power to bring about that revelation.
God’s love motivated Him to create mankind after His image. As such, mankind can engage in its own creative self-expression. God endowed mankind with the capacity for language and communication to share our experience in his presence.
Culture can be that arena through which we express these experiences of connecting, yearning, pursuing, and experiencing God. But it can also be that arena through which we express a feeling of disconnect, a desire to run away from God, or to reject Him.
When we engage with culture, we must remember that mankind creates culture either from a place of rebellion against God or a place of restoration to God. Consequently, Christians should discernwhat festivities, works of art, literature, or films and series they permit for their eyes and ears to behold.
I want to offer four things that would be wise to protect when you consider what to engage with:
1. A Pure Heart
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Having a pure heart enables us to commune with God. A heart defiled by sin, however, cannot commune with God. That’s why God sent us a perfect representative to secure the perfect righteousness and sacrifice required to approach and commune with himself in peace and joy.
Jesus satisfied our debt against divine justice on the cross. There Jesus took on our iniquities and consumed the Father’s wrath. He shed water and blood for our cleansing and purification (John 19:34). Crushed by the Father’s wrath, springs of living water could flow from him into us.
And the Holy Spirit descends into our hearts to indwell us. There the Spirit cleanses and purifies us through Jesus’s shed water and blood. He melts our hardened hearts and illumines our darkened minds with the holy light and heat of God, Jesus himself. Thus, the Spirit transforms us into the pure and holy people that the Father declares us to be.
As the Father’s children adopted into His spiritual household, we can approach and commune with God through Jesus. Through beholding God, we are conformed in our affections, convictions, and actions to God’s infinitely pure and holy, eternally-begotten Word.
Take great caution to ensure you are not engaging with culture that is working against your sanctification. If you are in Christ, you will always be God’s adopted child. However, consuming culture that defiles your heart will make you feel as if you are living at a distance from God.
2. A Good Conscience
“… how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14)
In addition to washing us in the Word, the Spirit writes that Word upon our hearts. Having washed our consciences, the Father’s holy truth securely rules our conscience.
In a devotional, Anthony Carter defines the conscience as “the place of reality where the truth is told… the place out of which guilt arises, where condemnation and liberty fight for the life of a person.” There God’s truth speaks to convince and assure us of our spiritual life in Jesus.
Our conscience, however, can be deeply affected. It can be corrupted or seared. In order to keep it aligned with the truth we need to anchor it in God’s Word.
God has revealed his mind and heart to us in the Scriptures. There God reveals his will for us. That is, God reveals within His Word how we can increase in our conformity to Jesus’s likeness.
We must regularly meditate upon the Scriptures from a cautious and cheerful spirit that reveres God and yearns for his Word. As we consume the written and divine Word, the Spirit fills us and moves our hearts to increasingly submit to God’s rule from increasing delight in God.
In accordance to the Scriptures, discern for yourself whether a medium of culture opposes the truth claims of God’s Word. Respond to the world’s lies with God’s promises and commands. Most of all, do not compromise your devotion to God’s law which reflects his holy character to consume culture.
3. A Sincere Faith
… whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
By grace through faith, God has given us an inner holiness and purity. This overflows to produce outer holiness and purity. In other words, our renewed affections and convictions produce renewed words and works. As we incline our affections and convictions toward Jesus, we set ourselves up for more renewed works.
Through his death and resurrection, Jesus made a way for us to enter God’s presence alongside him (Hebrews 9:12; 10:19). And he has commissioned his Spirit to dwell within us and to empower us to pursue that which he has set our eyes upon.
That object of our gaze is God. All good things come from fixing our gaze on Him. We need to value our sincere faith in Jesus and protect ourselves from things that threaten to take his place in our affections and convictions. As new creations gratefully indebted to Jesus, we ought to wrestle with what cultural mediums are worthy of our attention, time, and energy.
Consuming some parts of culture increase greed for entertainment and self-indulgence. But faith in Jesus Christ cultivates generosity and self-denial within us. We feel joyously compelled to give our time to others and to do good works in the Lord.
4. A Christ-Oriented Nature
Through our discernment, we must point to Christ’s redemption. All of creation groans and awaits the complete application of Christ’s redemption. We too must not be content with this present age and world nor the cheap and fleeting pleasure that sin offers. As the people of God, we must join Jeremiah in proclaiming:
A glorious throne set on high from the beginning
is the place of our sanctuary.
O Lord, the hope of Israel,
all who forsake you shall be put to shame;
those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth,
for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.
Our consumption of any cultural medium ought to point us upward to our celestial inheritance and cultivate genuine love for God and our neighbor’s wellbeing. This love “issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Without these we neglect our own and our neighbor’s spiritual health to the demise of our souls (1 Timothy 18-20).
From respect for God’s law (by which God will judge all people), we must prayerfully seek out conversations to share our faith to our neighbor as we engage culture. Through the presentation of the Gospel in conjunction to the law, God deals a heavy blow to our pride while reviving us in Jesus’ person and work.
Indeed, Jesus sits enthroned as the only remedy for sin’s presence, power, and guilt.
Such a Christian pursuit proceeds from a heart of gratitude and honor in Christ. He delivered us from unbelief and hatred to live a life of faith and love in himself:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)
So our pursuit begins and ends with doxology that reveres and adores God:
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)