This week, got another question for Dave and Gavin.
We're gonna be talking about whether Christians are able to live out the Gospel in our culture.
Well, we are able to live out the Gospel in our culture but it's become different for us from what we've become accustomed to over the recent centuries.
We've had a profound change at the centre of our culture recently, with the re-definition of marriage.
When the government redefined or privatised marriage, they changed the central relational feature of our society, which was built on a biblical model, to become a sort of free market for relationships.
That's gonna bring all sorts of challenges.
It is bringing all sorts of challenges right now to the place of Christians in public life to believe and behave in line with what the Bible says.
So, we're in a whole new ball game.
A whole new social orthodoxy, if you like, in which our relationship with the state, as Christian citizens, has changed, it really fundamentally has changed.
Now, there are opportunities in that and there are challenges in that, but the state is now legally, in terms of the laws, in terms of what you can do and what you can't do against people who are outside of that orthodoxy, and it's also coercively against people who are outside of that orthodoxy, in terms of, you know, "what is right and what is wrong?"
So, how do we operate in this new context?
Well, we need boldness, we need courage, we need wisdom, and we need to keep proclaiming the Gospel.
What this context does give us an opportunity to do is to live out our lives, live out the Gospel with clarity, to witness, with clarity and distinctiveness, to a world that's lost its way.
Whereas we had this sort of syncretized, blended form of Christianity with what we saw as society and it was a kind of watered down, now we have an opportunity to really witness, really be salt and light to the society around us and I welcome that on one level.
I guess it goes without saying that culture has changed and that it always will change.
You've both spoken very clearly, over the last few weeks, about the fact that we need to make sure we communicate the Gospel clearly but also accurately and not dilute that or water that.
But how should we respond, in terms of how culture has changed, do we, should we reflect that in the church?
There's the verse that talks about being in the world but not of the world, so how do we make sure that's relevant in our culture today.
Yeah, I think we have to be careful 'cause we celebrate people like James Hudson Taylor, who went to China, started the China Inland Mission, who wore the local dress, ate the local food, fitted in with the culture, then bought a distinct message.
And, often, as church we don't do that here.
So we celebrate people doing it all over the world but we don't do anything to engage with culture.
Karl Barth said, "you hold a newspaper in one hand, the Bible in the other."
Maybe they're both on an app together now but you hold them on your device together.
It's got to matter.
We can't speak Dutch to people who speak English.
So we do have to understand culture enough, totally, however, Christians are called to be influencers, not the influenced.
We are never to be magnolia wallpaper on the world's agenda.
We're not here to build David Cameron's 'Big Society'.
If that happens, that's great.
But we're here to build Jesus Christ's Big Kingdom and to be distinct in our world, we're called to be salt and light.
Salt brings flavour where it's needed, light brings light into dark places, and you know what?
The light came into the world and the darkness cannot master it, it says that in John 1.
It's really important that, as Christians, whatever the landscape, we are distinct.
So let's not lose our saltiness, let's not run out of battery for our light, and let's be different in this nation, let's not go with the flow.
We are the influencers, not the influenced.
However, let's understand our culture and how it works because I am not prepared to be part of a church that dies on its feet 'cause we wouldn't change the style.
Style changes like the wind, substance remains the same forever.
Fantastic, I think a few weeks ago, Gavin, it was you who said about perhaps put the flowers aside and go and get a hobby.
I guess that's another way of engaging with culture, literally looking at your lifestyle around you and, also, in your own hobbies and things and desires.
How can that be used in a form of evangelism?
Anything you're interested in is good, you know, and be interested in other people.
You know, popular people in life, they're not interesting, they're interested.
So what are you interested in and who are you interested in and what doors does that open?
Also, let's grapple with what's going on around us.
I never quite understand why we have to make poor Christian alternatives to various forms of culture and technology.
Let's embrace what there is.
A friend of mine's a theologian called Leonard Sweet.
He says, for example, not using social media now is like not using books for the last 500 years in ministry.
Let's stop arguing about whether these things are good or not and let's redeem them.
Let's use what's available to us and let's reach people with all we have. Because you know what?
I have an urgency.
It says in the Bible, "always be ready 'cause you don't know when the Lord's coming back."
I have an urgency that says, "let's get out there now and let's help a world that needs Jesus."