Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Church and Culture, Part 2

One of my dearest friends, affectionately known as Gus, wrote the following in response to my first post on Church and Culture. (Note: Gus generally does use his shift key occasionally, but neglected said key due to the informal nature of the blog comment). I found it to be quite well put.

"the thing i think we need to learn to do is to learn to see truth and beauty everywhere it exists (as you suggest) and then re-learn to see the beauty of the gospel...not just a vitamin-fortified cure for what ails you, but a sweeter song than is actually possible to sing apart from this amazing life in God...then as we readily look for truth and beauty we can sing this sweeter song as we live in the midst of other people's lives...I just dont think we know how to recapture the beauty of the gospel, so it still seems lame, trite and out of touch with the truly "profound"...if the gospel is not more beautiful than anything else, I am not sure I want it"

I don't really need to expound on this a lot, but I want to dive further into the idea of the beauty of the gospel "live[d] in the midst of other people's lives." It harkens in my mind the metaphor laid out by Rob Bell in NOOMA Rhythm / 011. Bell's thesis is basically that many of us have a far too distant view of God, as if he's somewhere else and intervenes occasionally. As a corrective, he invites us to look at life as a beautiful piece of music that God is putting together, and we all can live in tune with this great music when we live in the story of the gospel of redemption, when we live in tune with God's score.

Whenever I watch the film, it always challenges me to think that if I am truly living in tune with the "sweeter song," which reflects God's glory perfectly, that my life and the life shared by my community (church) would actually be attractive, exciting, sweet and beautiful.

I mean, if God really knows what he's doing, then if we follow him right, our lives will be the best lives possible. We'll be blessing as many other people as possible, loving as much as possible, seeing beauty everywhere possible and knowing its source. It does not diminish the fact that the call to discipleship is a hard one, wrought with sacrifice and tough calls, but if we truly believe that making these tough sacrifices is exactly what God desires of us, then won't our lives be better on the other side of that decision?

Perhaps if we are able to stop being paralyzed by fear, to truly live out the liberation that is proclaimed by the Gospel we profess, then we will be part of a song whose beauty nobody can deny. It is not a song invented by the mind of one great genius, but the sound of thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand singing the same song, each of us using our creativity within the structure of the greater piece of music.

What this looks like practically will be addressed in the near future, but in the meantime, let's play the song together.

[Also, see thoughts from David Fitch on this exact same topic, including plans for a forthcoming post on Kevin Vanhoozer's book on the topic of the Church and cultural engagement]

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