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Monday, September 27, 2004

"The Gospel creates a culture"

I've been thinking hard about White Horse Inn's interview with William Willimon (it's free!) since listening to it yesterday. The entire interview is excellent, but one thing Willimon said sticks out to me: "The gospel creates a culture."

He's right. The message of Jesus Christ, the preached Word of God, the seed of faith, takes root in the hearts of those who hear. And as the parable teaches us, if it's not choked out it begins to grow.

As Willimon points out in the interview, cultures are created by words. In the church's case, the culture is created by THE Word. The culture of her members is bound to change. Their communication with one another, their understanding of themselves, their symbols and their rituals will all be altered.

So what does this mean for the person who has not yet heard? Or one who has been plugging their ears for some time? Walking into a church is going to be some kind of culture shock.

And it should be! Why should we be ashamed that it is? If our culture as Christians is one truly thriving on the Gospel, springing up from the Word of God, nourished by the Sacraments, then we have nothing to blush about -- everything to boast about! Christ Himself is our church culture's defining characteristic. We are His bride, and He should be at the center of every movement of His church.

We should feel no need to acclimate church culture to pop culture, or postmodern culture, or any other. When we try, we always ending up watering down (or even tearing down) the very thing that makes the church: Christ Jesus. We've seen it throughout history, and we're seeing it even now.