Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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. Romans 12: 1 – 2

The public schools? The political arena? The arts and sciences?

As Christ followers should we just walk away?

How should we relate to the culture around us? Walk away? Or work within for transformation? Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, offers valuable insight that I believe is very helpful to us at ARPC. In our post-Christian world, the church is most effective at bringing cultural renewal when it takes the position of a FAITHFUL PRESENCE in the marketplace and other places of society. The church is least effective and detrimental to cultural renewal when, as Dr. Keller says, it takes a position in any of these three categories:

1) defensive against,

2) purity from,

3) relevant to

  1. Defensive Against: a position of triumphalism. This attitude believes we should take back the culture through politics – take back the corridors of power to ensure this.
  2. Purity From: This attitude says we shouldn’t make the world into the image of the church because, instead, the Church will turn into the image of the World.
  3. Relevant to: This ineffective category believes that Christianity is so irrelevant to the culture that we need to make the message “hip” and “relevant”.

An alternative stance to these three is a phrase articulated by sociologist James Hunter:

“Faithful Presence Within”

Rather than encouraging people to stay out of difficult places to live and work, we should strive to be in all parts of society.

This will bring the most effective cultural renewal because then Christ followers will serve everywhere – unafraid of culture.

“Faithful Presence Within”

Faithful: we change the culture not the other way around.

Presence: we are not acting triumphantly to take the culture back.

Within: we are embedded in the institutions of society rather than withdrawing from society.

What about you? Me? ARPC? – which of these four attitudes do we tend to use?

How can we become a faithful presence within?

The community – the schools – the businesses around ARPC need renewal – need Hope – Restored.

Lord, we want to be a faithful presence.