There are a lot of changes going on in our world all the time. It seems every day is a chance for something new to happen. It’s not only that things are changing but also we expect things to change and for new things to always take place. This is our culture now, constant anticipation for the next thing.
What I have described above is an overview of our big, media driven culture in America today. But culture is a word that can be applied in many different ways. Culture does not have to be large scale. You grew up in a household with a certain culture, played on sports teams with a particular culture, and definitely worked in a job with its own culture. These are called channels of culture by Lyons and typically, our cultures are positive or negative, healthy or unhealthy, good or bad. For me, it’s really that cut and dry. The question I would like to pose in response to the things I am reading in The Next Christians is what kind of cultures are you engaged in and how are you influencing them?
The old way and most often, pessimistic way, is to see negative culture as a lost cause or something to be left alone. That’s where the Restorers come in to play. As he says in the book, “sometimes we must create culture in seemingly bankrupt places.” I think many of us can identify more than a few bankrupt places in our lives. The cool thing that seems to be happening is that there is a group of people attempting to change those bankrupt places. And “the only way to change culture is to create more of it.” More positive, uplifting culture. These Restorers see themselves as light shining in the darkness. Instead of running from negativity or shaming it, they are breathing life into it. They are working to create a culture of “how things ought to be.”
How things ought to be can also be interpreted as “common good” thinking. Lyons points to a definition of common good as “the most good for all people—it doesn’t prefer one human being over another; instead, it values all human life and wants what is best for all people, Christian or not.” How much different would our world be if this was the culture that we held on to?
I think the answer is painfully simple. Operate with common good thinking in all aspects of your life. Doing this really should not be difficult but it will require intentionality. The different cultures in your life may not adopt this as normal but that should not dictate your actions. You are more than capable of creating a strong and healthy culture of “how things ought to be.” It wouldn’t be so bad if everyone knew it, would it? You could be the gal that does good things simply because it’s the right thing to do. Become that person in all areas of your life.
This is what Lyon’s says the next Christians are doing. They are holding fast to good and implementing it everywhere. The question I hope you are asking yourself is, “am I a Restorer?” And let me say this, it’s okay if you aren’t. You should be able to think of people or that one person that embodies the common good thinking I mentioned. For now, it’s okay to question and reflect on your actions within your own channels of culture. The point is negative culture does not have to stay negative. It can change and evolve over time but it will require the addition of positive culture breathing life into it. The exciting news is that this movement is happening and you can get in on it.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing me here. Thank you for these words that you have spoken through a book and a blog. I pray that you would open my eyes to the possibility that I am not always the best at holding on to the common good. But God, I pray that through your grace I would learn and I would get better at displaying an “ought to be” mentality in my culture. Help me believe that culture can change and that I have a part to play. Amen.
Stay tuned for next weeks post…