For those of you who don’t know, I am the Online Community Pastor at The Healing Place in Shreveport, LA. I love the people at my church and all that they do. This past week I was especially proud of our students. Our Student Leader, Jaran Hall, took our students over to another local church to help serve in their kids’ camp for ages 5 through 12. The leaders of the camp were amazed at how our students humbly stepped in to serve and even lead during this past week. We really do have an amazing group of students.
One of the days of the camp, myself and the rest of our staff came up to the camp simply to see what was going on and to encourage our students. Our goal was simply to observe and encourage. During the service portion of the camp, I saw something that encouraged me. I saw the message of Jesus being delivered to people on a level that they understood while speaking very relevantly to the group.
The irony is that some people who may have come in from the outside might have been offended by this message. Not because the cross is offensive to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 1:18) but because of the actual content. This particular message was illustrated by a play showing a young man who had come from an abusive situation where his father used to beat him and the young man had accidentally killed his father. It showed another man who had stolen money from other people and struggled with being an alcoholic. The play showed a person who was willing to destroy property and lives for his own personal gain. In the midst of the message the presenter even mentioned how some people sell their bodies.
I know some of you are already offended by this. “How could they talk about these things and present these things to children? These babies don’t need to be exposed to all that!” But see that’s why I’m encouraged, these kids have already been exposed to it and someone was willing to call it out and show them a better way. These kids weren’t kids who had the opportunity to have a two parent household that was able to provide everything they needed including actual love.
These were kids lived in areas of town that some would never dare to walk. Some of these young kids are already wrapped up in alcohol, drugs, and yes… even sex. Some of them have been abused physically, mentally, and sexually. These kids have parents, siblings, and other extended family members that they will never see without a plexiglass window between them. These kids needed hope, they needed to know that the situation they were living in wasn’t right, and they didn’t have to do what they saw around them. They had to know that the Father in Heaven wasn’t like some of what they had seen and that he was calling them to greatness. It was a message that had to be presented on their level and in a way that they would understand. Now please, understand that the presenter wasn’t being harsh, crude, or explicit. It was very respectful and honoring, but she did have to make mention of some very real things. How can a child know that someone touching them inappropriately isn’t right if it’s not said?
This article is hitting on a lot of things but this is the main thing I wanted to say. We need to be willing to talk to people where they are and how they hear. No, that doesn’t mean that if you’re talking to someone who has an absolutely disgusting vocabulary that you need to do the same. “Jesus ***** loves you *******” is not the way we should present the gospel. No, dressing like a hoochi-mamma (as my former youth pastor used to say) so that you can fit in with other girls who don’t dress modestly is not appropriate. No, being willing to get drunk at a bar so that you can reach other bar hopers is not appropriate. But speaking to the culture, using real-life examples… yes, that’s appropriate and that’s even Biblical!
In Acts 17:22-29 Paul uses a cultural icon to point the people to Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 he uses the games in the Colosseum to illustrate how we should continually and purposefully strive toward the goal of being Christ-like. Those Colosseum games weren’t’ exactly PG-13. Some of you are expecting me to go to 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 to give an example of why it’s ok to do what I’m saying here. You can’t deny that the scriptures say things very bluntly…
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
But look at the words in light of the context. Some have used this to justify doing some absolutely sinful things, but look at what he says in the next chapter…
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24
When we do ministry, yes use culture, speak to the situation but evaluate your heart and evaluate the situation. Is it really going to build people up? Is it really helpful? Is it really good for your neighbor?
Celeste and I started Geek Devotions because we are in the Geek Culture. We understand it, we speak it, we live it. But there are aspects of it that we won’t venture into because it’s not good for us spiritually. We will love people no matter where they are though, we will point them to Jesus as we speak to them where they are and in a way that they understand.
No matter where you are, take time to notice the people around you. Speak life to them. You may have to be a bit uncomfortable to speak to where they are and in a manner that they understand. Walk in the conviction of Holy Spirit and walk in grace. When you come across people ministering to folks in a different way, don’t get offended. Talk with them and find out what they are doing and why they do what they do. You may not agree with their methods or maybe it’s a ministry you can’t walk in, that’s ok. Pray for them and love them as we strive to further the kingdom.