All of us have certain aromas that are meaningful to us – hot cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, a flower, or a cologne. To be called a Christ-follower is to have a label or an aroma attached to you. When you walk around, that aroma follows you. When you are still, that aroma fills the space around you. When you speak, that aroma is breathed out. Wherever you are, the aroma is there.
The essence of Christianity is Jesus and the cross. Just as an aroma permeates, so does our influence as a Christ-follower. As we live in culture, everything in the life of the believer is to be founded on and permeated by Jesus and the cross. Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit, infiltrates, infuses, invades, penetrates, pervades, saturates, seeps, steeps, drenches, fills, ingrains, pierces, soaks, transfuses, and otherwise radically influences every dimension of my life. It shows in everything I do, say, and think.
I want to suggest four ways you, as a Christ-follower, should think about living in culture.
• Go BEYOND culture.
Recognize the sinful aspects of a culture and don’t let those pull you down.
• Go IN culture.
We need not only to study the Word but also know the world. Do double listening. Become aware of the context around us and observe culture. Listen to the world with critical alertness. Listen to the Word with humble reverence. (John Stott).
• Go WITH culture.
A man I met last summer said it well. “The world is not the enemy; it is the prize to be won for God.” Believers are simply in the world but not part of its essence (John 17:14-15). Being “in” the world means we can enjoy the things of this world, but we are not to immerse ourselves in what the world values. Pleasure, or our accommodation to culture, is not our calling in life, but it is rather the worship of God with everything in my life.
• Go TO culture.
Today, there are over 7,000 people groups who are still considered unreached, not yet having heard the Gospel message. They represent almost 42% of the world’s population. God is calling all of us to go – either to go physically or to be involved in sending those who go.
We go BEYOND, IN, WITH, and TO the culture by His divine power working in us for life and godliness…so make every effort to increase the aroma in your life. (2 Peter 1:3-11).