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I’ve recently spent more time & energy than usual thinking about cultural issues. This is primarily owing to a dear friend of mine for whom I have a great deal of respect. He has said some things that challenged my thinking, so I’ve had to dig in a little bit and actually give some thought to these issues.

What does the Gospel of Jesus Christ mean for culture in this world?

Should the saints have cultural identities? If so, are they defensible? Some more than others? To what lengths should we go to preserve our cultural identities?

If the saints shouldn’t have cultural identities, then how do we relate to this world in which cultural identity is so important to the unregenerate?

I have heard people say thing like “the gospel is counter-cultural” and then go on to do and say goofy things just to contradict the culture around them, not because of the Gospel.  Yes, the Gospel is counter-cultural, but only when it is, not when it isn’t.  Discernment is important.  Interestingly, I think in modern times, particularly in this country (and perhaps other places in the Western world), to be counter-cultural can amount to conforming with “the culture” in some sense, much like in high school some kids choose to dress really oddly in an effort to express themselves, but express themselves exactly like the other kids in their clique.

I certainly don’t know all the answers to these difficult questions, but I do know that we are first citizens of God’s Kingdom, and that ultimately, the cultural identities that have become so important to us will be but wisps in the vapors of eternity past.  As we identify more and more with Christ, as the old song says, “the things of this world grow strangely dim”.

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