How Should Christianity Engage in Culture?

Comparing ancient Babylon with modern society, Mike Metzger reflects on how Christians should engage in culture by serving others to help them see God.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. Do you see any similarities between the times in which we live and other times in history?
  2. How could Christians do a better job at contributing to the fluorishing of their communities?

If I put my faith in God, what does it look like for me to live in this culture that we live in?
There's nothing new in history, and the best historical precedent for the world we live in today happened 2,500 years ago, and it was called the Babylonian exile. And the Jews had so squandered and, well, hadn't done particularly well in their faith for hundreds of years, and God took them and plunked them in Babylon and said, "We're going to start over." And the first two things they did, uh, studied the language and literature of Babylon. And then the second thing was, uh, they began to seek the flourishing of Babylon so that, uh, Nebuchadnezzar would take their faith seriously. The reason I say it's very similar to the world we're in today is the city of Babylon, which had the 8th wonder of the world— the, um, hanging gardens— had 1,197 temples. There was religion everywhere, and it was all the same. And God said, "Good, now I'm going to put you in this situation. Now here's the trick. Nebuchadnezzar doesn't take any of these faiths seriously. That's why he has diviners in his court. Your challenge is to learn the language and literature of these people, figure out ways for them to flourish, and as you do that and as they flourish, so shall you flourish. And as they take your faith seriously, they'll see there is one true God." I happen to think we're back in that age today. Uh, I think that the modern age most closely parallels the Babylonian exile, and that our best move is to learn the language and literature of what the world we're living in— what it's saying— seek its flourishing, find ways for it to do well and do good, and have those people, many of them leaders, come back and say, "Where the heck do you get this stuff?" or, "Wow, why is this so helpful?" and, um, it's a big, big challenge.