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Summary: Was Jesus culturally relevant? Should we try to be or is it a better "witness" if we distance ourselves from "worldliness"?

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Dakota Community Church

June 1, 2008

Culture Shock

I don’t know if I am just too easily amused or what; but I find the study of people, relationships, and group dynamics to be simply fascinating. Those things that we all share, the cultural norms, the humor, the acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, the politics and most of all the Christian slant that gets added to all of it, I love it.

Let me try out a few pop cultural references on you to see if you can identify them; first from television: “Eat my shorts”, “Master of your domain”, “Make it so”, and “Dunder Mifflin”, any of those recognizable to you?

What about a few business references? Can you name the company that claims their product is the; “Real Thing”? Who tells us we should; “Just Do It”? Who asks the pointed question; “Is It In You?” and who said more than enough with “Muffle Tuff Wuffy?” Who had young men asking each other “Whazzzzzzuuuupppp?” for about two years in the 1990’s?

Definition – What is culture?

A culture is a way of life of a group of people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one person and one generation to the next.

There are different cultures within different groups of humanity and these differences can be a source of diversity and strength or of prejudice and violence. It is often said that while the United States embraces a melting pot view of culture, Canada has chosen a multi-cultural route that encourages new comers to cherish and preserve their unique heritages. There is no end to the fighting that can go on over the strengths and weaknesses of these to view points. Suffice it to say that there are differences and often we feel that our way is the best way and everyone else should embrace our wisdom.

Examples of cultural differences: Mainstream North American Culture vs. Other Cultures

1. Sense of self and space Informal, Handshake - Formal Hugs, bowing

2. Communication Emphasis on content - Emphasis on context

3. Dress Wide range accepted - Sign of position or religious rules

4. Eating a necessity--fast food - A social experience, religious rules

5. Time Promptness time=money – Elastic, enjoyment of relationships

6. Relationships Focus on nuclear family - Focus on extended family

7. Age Value on youth – Value on age and experience

8. Gender Equality - Different roles for men and women

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In light of all this cultural talk, what does it mean not to conform?

What is the pattern of this world that is being referred to here?

Do we obey this scripture by not listening to certain styles of music or by not watching certain television shows?

Is not conforming to the pattern of this world about not drinking certain beverages, or maybe about not laughing at certain jokes?

I want to begin by asking the following question.

1. Was Jesus culturally relevant?

Luke 5:8-11

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

John 4:35-36

Do you not say, ’Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages; even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.

Matthew 22:16-22

"Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"

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