Christ and Culture

Christ and Culture

Pastor Robert Zemke

In our current sermon series on Christ and Culture, we discussed how there are various stances Christians have taken to be ‘in the world but not of the world.’ Whenever this topic is addressed, people often begin with Richard Niebuhr’s classic book, “Christ and Culture.” Niebuhr defines Culture as “the social life of humanity, the environment created by human beings in the areas of language, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, social organization, inherited artifacts, technical processes, and values." However, these areas mentioned are not inherently evil or good; they are just the make-up of the stuff of life. They, of course, take on a way of life influenced by people who do so for good or evil purposes. 


His five approaches are: 

Christ against Culture 

Christ of Culture 

Christ above Culture 

Christ and Culture in Paradox 

Christ transforming Culture


The options above can be boiled down to: 

Are we against Culture? 

Do we accommodate to Culture? 

Or do we try to change Culture? 


Some think that what happens on earth does not matter since we have the promise of eternity with the Lord when all things will be made new. God has called us to be salt and light in this world, and what we do matters. Yet, the New Testament has an "already and not yet" reality. Christ saves us, we are being saved, and we will experience the fullness of our salvation when we dwell with the Lord forever. Jesus taught that the kingdom of God has come– that was his focus when he taught primarily in parables. God's kingdom is his rule and reign in your life. This reality is a pointer to his everlasting kingdom.


The kingdom is here because Christ inaugurated it through his death, resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. His kingdom is to advance in this world his rule and reign in the hearts of those who welcome him into their life. Those who do this perform the good works that they were called to do. 


The beatitudes come into full view when we consider this relevant question today. At the core of Jesus' teaching is the first line of his Sermon on the Mount – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Who we need to be and what the world needs to see are people who are meek, merciful, righteous, peacemaking, and willing to suffer for his namesake. It is not worth spending much time listening to those who are not encouraging and exhibiting these qualities. Jesus says my kingdom is not of this world since in heaven, there will be: 

No more wars 

No more nations

No more ethnic and racial tension

No more crying 

No more battles to fight 


We will be one with the Lord. Let’s live in such a way to get a foretaste of this as we live faithfully for him.