We Live in a Post-Christian Culture
Post Christianity is a product of post-modernism which recognizes that our culture is moving away from organized Christianity.
Younger generations grow up believing that there is no absolute truth
Cultural Christianity is declining rapidly as many people are leaving the church
This leaves the church in a place of social exile as Christians increasingly become a minority in our culture when only a few decades ago Christians were the majority.
“In the post-Christian revolution, it is fair to say that the Church is one of those former power brokers who once enjoyed a place of influence at the cultural table but has been chased away from its place of privilege and is now seeking to find where it belongs amid the ever changing dynamics of contemporary culture.” -Lee Beach, author the the Church in Exile.
What is Exile?
Exile is the Biblical event where Israel was deported to Babylon after continually sinning against God.
The Israelites then found themselves in a foreign culture surrounded by distorted values and false religion.
That is how being a Christian in Canada can feel.
Christians are in a culture which often does not share our values and a culture that worships not God, but the triad of sex, power and money.
This does not mean that the church or Christians are being persecuted in Canada. Likewise exile is a real thing that people in the world go through and we need to respect that ours is a metaphorical exile and not even close to the same extent as people in real exile.
Exile Can Be Positive!
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:4-7
God wants us to build houses and plant gardens in exile!
God asserts that he is still almighty, he is still in control. We need to find comfort in that.
Some of the greatest theological advancements for the Israelites happened in exile.
Exile forces people to either abandon their faith or to take it seriously.
There are three focuses the church should have if it wants to thrive in exile.
Other countries are now sending missionaries to Hamilton to evangelize
People will no longer just walk into a church, they need to be invited.
Exile happened to the Israelites because they failed at God’s call to grow his kingdom. We need to recognize exile as an opportunity to spread the gospel.
“The new cultural identity for the church in the west is that of missionary” -Lee Beach
We need to adopt the mentality of a ‘creative minority’ and look for innovative ways to reach non-Christians in our communities.
A commitment to Holiness
1 Peter is a book written to Christians and addresses them as “exiles”. We can take comfort knowing our home is not here but in heaven.
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16
Our culture does not care for holiness, but God does
We need to resist the cultural worship of sex, power and money.
The kingdom of God runs counter to the culture of our world.
Purity culture is not the answer and has harmed many Christians in the past.
Adopt a collective identity of narrative holiness; instead of following a bunch of rules, we submit ourselves to the story of God and what he is doing in our city.
Holiness will set us apart from those around us.
An Exilic Hope
Do not let hopelessness take root.
God told the people to settle down and live good lives in exile, there is no reason to despair.
Now isn’t the time to whine about the churches marginalized social position but instead to think creatively and have hope that God will still work.
The early church abounded in hope for everything.
God is good. All the time. And all the time. God is good.