Why I love my church

headed east out of st. paul,
we stopped for water.
rested in the cemetery,
watched the mississippi.
running out of food stamps,
found a bag along the footpath
off highway 61 filled with
what looked like marijuana.
(don’t worry mom, we left it there)
— mewithoutYou

When I was twelve, I walked five miles through the July heat to buy a copy of Nirvana’s “In Utero.” I had saved up some lawn-mowing money by fasting from Big League Chew and was utterly determined to come home with a copy of that album. That’s a long walk for a tween (am I using that word right?), and so you can hopefully understand how upset I got when I got home and it was promptly taken away from me. Apparently, my mom took issue with the tune “Rape Me”.
I bet many of my Christian friends can relate to the experience of having to abstain from secular culture. Maybe for some of you this extended to, through, or even beyond college. And I suppose I can sympathize with the motivation behind this decision, it is one I disagree with. And not just because I never got my copy of “In Utero” back.

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Tomorrow, my church will be hosting one of its semi-regular “Film & Theology” nights. We’ll be watching Groundhog Day. (If y’all can make it, you should come.) These events were why I first started going to Hope Community Church. It was the first time a church — and specifically, Tim Johnson, the worship pastor — had acknowledged that the right response to culture isn’t to ignore it, and it isn’t to look for alternatives to it. The right response to secular culture is to use it to point to Christ.

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This was the Apostle Paul’s approach. In Acts 17, attempting to reason with the Epicureans and Stoics, Paul makes reference to the Greek poet Aratus. “It is not by accident that Paul can quote from classical Greek poetry,” says Stewart Custer. Similarly, the value of secular culture comes not in itself but in our ability to use it to bridge to the Gospel, to help unbelievers find common ground for understanding the message. Again, Hope was the first church I ever saw embrace this philosophy.
I guess it never hurts to showcase Bill Murray. But that’s another post entirely.

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4 thoughts on “Why I love my church

      • Zach sometimes thinks that secular (by human labels) can be more honoring to and seeking after God than religious. While Christian bookstores can be a great place to buy a Bible I would argue that for art they tend to be like putting fresh squeezed OJ through a Britta.

      • That’s a great image, Zach! I agree, although it does seem more and more that Christian musicians are taking on this challenge and trying to deliver some impactful tunes recently. Hopefully the trend continues.

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