This blog is going to be difficult for me to write. Not because it floors me emotionally, but because I'm typing with my left hand, while my phone balances precariously.
I'm sitting through a mammoth final sesh at the tattoo studio (appropriately named 'OhhMyGod' Tattoo Studio!). I don't want to specifically remark on tattoos - most either love them or hate them, and a blog won't likely change that.
What I wanted to make an observation about is culture and more precisely, understanding how I've learnt (and struggled) to redeem parts of culture, while rejecting other parts of it.
As a Christian in 21st century London, there are so many quick judgements to make on a regular basis. Do I engage in that tricky conversation about a hot girl at work? Do I do that round of shots with mates at the bar? Do I watch the TV programme that everyone is banging on about? Is there a particular way I should dress or act? Is it wise to spend my money/time on such and such? Hours on Fifa/Poker/box set DVDs - you name it. Culture will pour itself into our lives at breakneck speed and discerning what is healthy to invest in and what we are to flee from, is vital.
In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul makes a helpful statement:
'For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.' (2 Corinthians 10:3&4 NIV)
As Christians, we wage war on a constant basis. Though we are part of God's Kingdom and living to shine amongst a culture riddled with defiance and sin (Philippians 2 15&16), our focus is on something completely different to most of those around us.
To reject outright all that culture breaths, would be stupid. To harness some of the good that culture breaths, would be helpful.
I love a few beers with mates. I love some of the amazing TV and films that are produced at the moment. I love art and music (in a variety of forms!). I love all kinds of international cuisine. I love social media. Being in the world but not of the world is tricky, but so important as we try to find ways of connecting the now (the world we live in) with the not yet (a future Kingdom).
Some Christians hate my tattoos, and would suggest that I have been a fool to get them. But they have opened up opportunities on numerous occasions for me to profess my faith, particularly in situations where it might have been harder to get that ball rolling. It's a huge part of culture these days that can be redeemed.
God is at work in the most ordinary of people. It takes discipline to reject the things that will blatantly bring Him no glory (such as drugs, greed, porn, selfishness - to name a few). But be on the look out for things that He can use - areas in your life or areas in culture that aren't necessarily sinful but that can be redeemed - your language, what you spend your cash on, even your Facebook status!
They can be very powerful weapons when wielded well.