Engage culture

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

– John 17:14-18

Don’t you want to bubble-wrap your kiddos and then head to the nearest deserted island to protect them from being tainted by the world?

I think most believer moms feel like this from time to time. The culture has become an increasingly hostile place. Our values, morals, and faith are challenged at every turn. The media, the marketplace, the educational system, extended family members, friends, and our neighbors may hold a very different worldview from ours.

The prayer spoken by Jesus in John 17 was said for present and future believers. Jesus knew the secular world system would be tough to navigate. Yet, he calls us to do just that. He has sent us out into the world. We are to be his representatives, his ambassadors.

How do we engage the culture without embracing it? We take our cues from Jesus.

Jesus prays for our protection and asks God to sanctify us with truth, His Word. Knowing God’s Word, the truth, is critical prior to engaging the culture. If we know His Word we can stand firm against things that contradict God’s will and way.

So how do we model engaging the culture and avoid embracing the culture?

We must:

1. Know God’s word. John 17:17 – “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

2. Pray for protection. John 17:15 – “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

3. Suit up. Ephesians 6:11-13 – “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

4. Engage. John 17:18 – “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

5. Stand firm by faith. 2 Corinthians 1:24 – “It is by faith you stand firm.”

Engaging in the culture is tricky. We need to be able to articulate what we believe with gentleness and respect.

How can that be done?

  • Begin where you are unified. General statements like: “This relationship is important to
    me.” “We both care about children.”
  • Ask to hear their story and listen, “What is your story? What has influenced your world
  • Thank them, “Thanks for sharing your story with me.”
  • Ask if you can share your experience. “Thanks for sharing. Is it OK if I share my perspective?”
  • Agree to disagree respectfully.

Engaging in the culture while holding onto your faith is not an easy task. The topics that rise to the surface are often ones we care deeply about because they impact our children and our families.

Here’s a prayer (crafted from 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14) you may want to pray before stepping into the world to engage the culture.

Heavenly Father,

Protect me, help me to be on my guard and to stand firm in the faith. Move me to be courageous. Give me your strength. Let your love flow through me so I represent you well.