In Not Of

By Matt King

It was 12 years ago that a neighbor invited my family to a church plant called Sojourn. I thought to myself, what a cool name, I wonder what it means. Merriam-Webster Defines “sojourn” as a period of time when you stay in a place as a traveler or guest, which captures the tension that many Christians feel in our culture and the world. We think of ourselves as travelers, in it for a temporary time, but not of it. So, if we are Sojourners in this land, how do we navigate this tension? How does Christianity fit into the culture?

Let’s start by looking around to see a world full of both beauty and brokenness. Beauty so astounding that it takes our breath away. Mountains that point high toward the heavens and waters so blue you can’t tell them from the sky, all created by God as a means to point to His glory.

In addition to the beauty around us, created by God, we see the beauty inspired by God. Beauty created by the hearts, minds and hands of humanity. Beauty so awe inspiring we find ourselves silent just looking at a piece of visual art, or feel chills on our arms while listening to music.

But there can be an unease in creation and in our culture, and we all see and experience it from time to time. It creeps in to the countryside and the urban landscape. It is broken and reveals the sinfulness of humanity. It manifests itself in theft, rape, racism and murder. It appears on our streets, radios and television sets.

How do we manage this tension?

Our family lives in a city where we navigate the beauty and brokenness everyday. My wife and I have raised our kids in the heart of New Orleans. We have been inspired not to run from the brokenness, but to run to it and become world changers. In doing so, we have learned some practical insights for impacting culture and creating it.

We believe it all starts with wisdom. In order to navigate the tension of beauty and brokenness, we will need to be wise and inspired. The book of Proverbs describes three key components to wisdom:

Discretion: We say it this way, you might have the right thing to say but not the right to say it, or you might have the right thing to say, but it’s not the right time to say it.

Prudence: We say it like this, you have to see the implication and the details of what is going on around you and where it will take you.

Knowledge: We say it like this, you have to have a working knowledge of the Bible and Character of God and what it explicitly forbids.

We are also aware that Wisdom in human form is Jesus. The power of the gospel of Jesus ensures that we don’t have to be afraid that all culture will corrupt us. Instead, we have confidence to apply Jesus to every situation. Here are 3 helpful things when dealing with the tension of beauty and brokenness:

 When we recognize that culture is from God, we will understand that in our travels here, we should embrace the beauty, fight the brokenness and help create a culture ordered in redemption.

Practical Helps

Say Yes! Culture is a manifestation of God’s creation and an outgrowth of human ingenuity and creativity. There are tons of things in culture that are God’s gracious gift to all people and we as Christians can affirm and SAY YES PLEASE.

Say No! Culture can also be corrupted by sin and deeply broken. There are things in this world that are beneficial to no one. I can’t think of one redeeming thing about Drunk Driving or Sex Trafficking. The Christian must say no.

Say Jesus! We should bring Jesus to bear on the world. There are some things in the world that are not evil in and of themselves but can be used in a sinful way. I live in a great food city. I love to eat and enjoy the amazing cuisine that New Orleans has to offer. The Bible tells me it is ok to eat but that I should not be a glutton.

Also, that it is not healthy for me to eat and be merry while others go hungry. Food is a gift from God and should be enjoyed, respected and shared!

The Take-a-way

When we recognize that culture is from God, we will understand that in our travels here, we should embrace the beauty, fight the brokenness and help create a culture ordered in redemption.

Published February 10, 2015