Does God expect Christians to condemn the culture we live in, or merely critique it? Does He want us to opt out, or to opt in? How do we go about being salt and light to our generation, to our culture? Is taking part in culture even part of our mandate as Christians?
Pam and I have always tried neither to condemn our culture, nor merely to make our way through it without too much of it sticking to us, but rather to recast it in His image through our own God-driven effort. Our relationship is part of that remaking. We have tried to make it a true partnership, along the lines of Aquila and Priscilla in the book of Acts, and not fall into the expectations of others in either the church or our workplaces. We wanted to live within our means and give freely to those in need to create a model that was not beholden to cultural expectations of unnecessary expense and debt. The Joneses far outstripped us long ago, and we let them.
We left our jobs for a year during our careers, not once but twice, not to increase our earning potential by advancing our educational degrees, but to devote ourselves to the cause of Christ irrespective of the cost. We have now left our jobs at the peak of our earning potential , not because we despise comfort and ease, but because we value serving the Lord with the best of what we have to offer, rather than wait until our power to effect change has waned.
This is what we want to show to our families, our friends, our church and the world. We want to be part of those who are trying to create new ways of living a life, a life that has meaning beyond a consumer-oriented economy, a life focused on Christ and His call on our life. We want to show His love to the world in a tangible way.
You don’t have to leave where you are to do that. We did so because the Lord directed our hearts to this place. How is the Lord directing your heart? Would you not rather have a life of purpose, whatever they may cost you, than to live a life totally circumscribed by cultural demands and expectations? How many hockey games do you need to see; how many technological marvels do you need to own; how much mortgage debt do you need to assume? Are you living for God, or for the culture that surrounds you?
God intends to redeem culture every bit as much as He intends to redeem individual lives. And all cultures need to be redeemed, perhaps none more so than our own. We are striving to be part of that work of redemption in Southeast Asia, and we appreciate your prayers on our behalf. We also want to encourage you to rethink your role in your own culture; to be caring, thinking and acting as agents of cultural redemption. We also covenant to pray for you in this crucial work: to serve the Lord in His great act of redemption in individuals and in cultures.