Lit dawgs

It’s no secret that politics is really downstream from culture and as we start this new decade, there’s no doubting that the post-Christendom society will advance. As faithful followers of Jesus, we constantly face the challenge of how we make sense or make the most of the “culture wars”.

We must recognise that the Moral Majority style evangelistic strategies that may have moved masses half a century ago have not stood the test of time. If we were honest with ourselves, it would have probably been our parents’ generation or maybe even before then that the serious anti-Christian values discreetly blended themselves into the western world’s civil society.

The challenges that faithful Christians currently face are not anything that we have never known before, however, it is only in the last decade that they have significantly resurfaced. Questions regarding life, marriage, death and all the supposed norms that we once assumed as absolute are all up for debate.

Back to basics

The “culture wars” isn’t really a call for Christians to be overbearing with their theology in the socio-political sphere but a yearning for revolution in church thinking towards what it means to be actively building up the kingdom of God. Christians ought to know the Bible isn’t a checklist of dos and don’ts but often in practice our approach to issues in the socio-political world has been just that.

Church teaching needs to be deconstructed and followers of Jesus be shown each of the steps for why the ends justify the means, instead of just being presented with what at first glance are seemingly legalistic dogmas. It’s not helpful and damaging at worst to present arguments against LGBT issues when there has been a vacuum of what the Godly image of life can be like.

John’s gospel records Jesus as reminding His followers to ‘be in the world but not of the world’. Too quickly Christians tend to jump the gun of equating ‘in the world’ to not being set apart for the Gospel. Taking a closer look at John chapter 17 verse 14 to 19, we can learn that ‘being not of the world’ isn’t actually the destination but merely a starting point towards the Kingdom of God.

Voices in contemporary culture

Despite the growing antithesis towards Christianity, two musicians have broken through the hurdles of modern secular pop culture onto the world stage in the past year with their proclamations of Jesus. Both Kayne West with his album ‘Jesus is King’ and Lauren Daigle with her album ‘Look Up Child’ have been monumental steps in the contemporary Christian approach to being “in” but “not of” this world.

It will be without question that churches and many Christians will take some time to be accustomed to the up and coming form of evangelism. For too long Christians have misunderstood influencing the contemporary culture with Godly values as simply the rightful shunning of sinful behaviour.

There is no future for Christianity if it is just a system of belief based on prohibitions that fail to actually offer Jesus to the world. Jesus didn’t expect people to be perfect before reaching Him, nor should Christians expect non-believers to be Godly without Christ.

Both Kayne West and Lauren Daigle offer a glimmer of Christianity that has been forsaken by mainstream media and forgotten by many churches. West’s smash hit “Jesus is King” makes no clear declaration of this important truth and Daigle’s inclusion on the line-up at Coachella 2020, the world’s renowned music festival is an affirmation that Christians do have a place in contemporary culture.

Refiner’s fire

You might be asking yourself, are Kayne West and Lauren Daigle really Christians or is this just another publicity stunt? But Christians ought to be mindful that no matter the extent of faith (or lack of) with these pop stars, it is God that is to be worshipped. Christian music isn’t a substitute for replacing the role of the church and solid pastoral teaching, and hence the artists ought not to be promulgated onto a pedestal.

Rather, their music is best a reflection of their relationship with Christ at the time that the songs were written. Like each one of us, we are made new in Christ upon accepting His gracious offer of salvation which calls us to repentance. However, even though the victory has been won over Satan, God is still at work as every believer no matter young or old continues to have their hearts refined.

We will not be able to answer every question about Scripture nor will Christians be free from sin in this world, but through daily devotion and prayer, we can call upon God to be refining us. When we allow the Spirit to be moving through us, our lives will change one step and one day at a time. In recognising that we are not perfect, it is important to also respect the journey of faith that Christian artists are also on.

So, do you want to be a “lit dawg”? A person that is being refined daily by and for the Gospel who is addressed by God on close familiar terms?

This article was first published at Christian Today Australia on Thursday 6 February 2020