This post is a part of the series I’m doing on A Theology of Cultural Engagement. Today’s post will focus on the role of cross-bearing in cultural integration.
The last key area Christ leads us into cultural engagement is through cross-bearing. This is in reference to Jesus’ teaching to his disciples in Luke 9 when he says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
Jesus’ demands of us are not surface level changes and they are not easy because they involve an immense sacrifice most are unwilling to give. He gave his life, in order that those who follow him would give their lives as well. Jesus’ atonement is not simply a gift of a better life or even eternal life, it carries consequence for our lives now as well.
The selfishness and me-first attitude of culture is often represented well within the walls of churches and believers everywhere. Those who do not know Christ will easily pick up on our selfish desires for converts if these three previous areas of focus (vocation, restoration, and creation) become acquisitive methods.
This last area of focus is the most important and is really where it all begins. CS Lewis hits on this in his book First and Second Things when he says, “You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only but putting first things first.”
For Christians the first thing is for us to follow Jesus with all we have, holding nothing back. Once we begin to make this first thing our top priority, all the other ways we engage the world around us will more easily fall in place.
(I’ll conclude the series in the next post)