By now, most of you know my passion for the church’s engagement of the culture. I long for our church plant to exist for the gospel-transformation of the city/culture where God has called us to live – but to do so requires listening, living among, and appreciating the unique culture around us. It requires that the people in my neighborhood and soccer referee culture (world) know that I genuinely count them as my friend. As my blog name makes clear (and also creates many interesting conversations with churched people), the angle by which I view the journey into cultural engagement for the sake of gospel transformation is weakness. I reveal my weakness and need in hopes that my friends (outside of the church in the world) will in time reveal their weakness and need to the point that we unitedly trip over the gospel together.
But that brings with it a correlated weakness for which we (I) must continually pray for clarity and boldness and purity. Consider James 4:4-5 – Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is for no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell within us.”
I offer no commentary here. I just bring it to the fore. This is one of my struggles. I believe with all my heart that the people in our world’s communities and cultures need gospel-loving friends like you and me. It is our responsibility to initiate such friendship. God has put me here, and you wherever you are for such kingdom relationships! But then… welcome tension! Our friendships have the power to affect what we love. And if we befriend people who love the things of the world… beware: in time our commitment to gospel-purposed friendship deceivingly can become a disquised friendship with the world. Some days I wonder where the line is. Other days I know I am standing on it. Other days I know I am so concerned about that “worldly friendship line” (especially in the eyes of other Christians) that I am a churchified friendless pastor who is making no impact on my community.
O God who yearns jealously over my soul which you have redeemed – thank you for being the Friend of sinners and may you guide me by your Word and Spirit when I befriend people in this world. May I not look like a drunken fool trying to walk the fine line of kingdom ministry and cultural engagement.