Following Jesus in a Post-Christian Culture

Living for Christ isn’t easy, nor was it ever meant to be! Jesus told us directly that in this world we would have trouble (John 16:33), and this truth seems to be a greater reality for us today as our increasingly post-Christian culture faces a pandemic, racial injustice, and other societal pressures.

What is a post-Christian culture? It seems like a big, complicated concept, but in the words of Mark Sayers, pastor and co-host of the podcast This Cultural Moment, post-Christianity is essentially “a desire for the Kingdom without the King.”

We see this clearly in our society today! The biblical ideals of justice, love, and kindness are ingrained in the human heart and they influence many social movements, yet many times these ideals aren’t inspired by God. Sadly, many strive to live in a perfect world, not realizing their desire for perfection is actually a desire for Jesus! Instead of putting their faith in Christ, many have put their faith in politics, relationships, and institutions and made their purpose the pursuit of happiness. Perhaps this happens to those who reject God because on a subconscious level they believe life as they know it is the best it will ever get, and thus, they feel they must create their own utopia!

For people with this mindset, they’ll inevitably lift up their own sinful lusts and desires because those behaviors provide a seemingly authentic satisfaction; however, it’s actually the enemy’s deceitful and temporary imitation of the purpose and fulfillment that can only be found in Christ. Because of this, our modern-day culture has fallen into Israel’s same pattern as seen in the Old Testament when, with no king, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25 ESV). When we want to experience the blessings of God without the worship, obedience, or acknowledgement of God, what we’re really doing is forsaking Christ for the things of this world: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16 NIV).

Although this reality can easily discourage us, there’s actually much hope to be had in such a time as this! Perhaps God intended to use 2020’s social atmosphere and difficult circumstances to expose this post-Christian cultural norm. Perhaps this is an opportunity to identify how the church’s convictions have weakened in the face of this cultural norm and take steps towards renewal and revival. The answer God gave Habakkuk when Israel was in a similar situation is one that can apply to us today: “For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5 NIV).

The Gospel

In 2 Timothy, Paul prompts Timothy to be prepared to correct, rebuke, and encourage as he preaches the Word, both when it’s popular and when it’s not (2 Timothy 4:2). He then warns Timothy by saying, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3 NIV). Friend, that time is now.

We see this in the media and in our daily practices. We don’t listen to the experts for fear of either misunderstanding or understanding perfectly. We avoid listening to people with different viewpoints and experiences for fear of being found guilty of what we’re already guilty of: sin! As it relates to faith, we tune out people and messages of truth for fear of being convicted and dissatisfied.

Yet it’s our sin that makes the gospel so necessary and beautiful! Our wretchedness, our imperfection, our evil is exactly why God sent his Son to sacrifice Himself on our behalf! As Paul expressed in Titus 3:3-7 (NIV), “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

In light of this, we must continually remember we couldn’t have done anything to deserve God’s grace. When we live like this, we’ll live with awe and gratitude because the Lord allowed our “I know about God” to become “I know God.” As a result, our love for God will grow, our experience of His love will be magnified, and our passion for good works and for the mission to make disciples of all nations will be ignited by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 28:19).

The Mission

Nonetheless, the answer to how we can pursue this mission may feel far off even though it never changed. The answer is the gospel, and apart from it, there is no true peace, no real reconciliation, and no lasting hope. We’re the ones who changed. Along the way, perhaps we forgot our role in this mission is to be gospel-centered and mission-minded as a church and as individuals.

In Tod Bolsinger’s book Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory, he quotes Alan Hirsch who says “missional church is a community of God’s people that defines itself, and organizes its life around . . . being an agent of God’s mission to the world.”

At Calvary, we seek to carry out the mission of making disciples with the vision of reaching our community and changing our world! This belief doesn’t come from ourselves, rather it stems from the example of the early church! In Acts 8:4, we see the growing early church was scattered after Stephen’s persecution, but they continued on their way “preaching the Word.” They kept growing because they lived on mission! God has given us this example to remind us of what He created His church to be: His body! Therefore, His mission for us is to exalt His name and proclaim the message of hope and reconciliation everywhere we go, beyond the comfort of our church walls (2 Corinthians 5:19).

This means that instead of trying to reach our community by solely being relevant, we intend to reach our community like Jesus did . . . by teaching the truth unashamedly and serving in love boldly. This means we won’t succumb to the patterns of this world, rather we’ll renew our minds daily with the Word of God and allow the Spirit to guide us in all we do (Romans 12:2). This means we won’t put God in a box and leave our faith for Sundays, but we’ll center our lives around the gospel living a lifestyle of grace and truth as Jesus lived. 

When we take steps towards living on mission, both collectively and individually, we join God in His vision and work alongside Him to bring that into further fruition. This involves humility, surrender, faith, and transformation. As we do this, our greatest comfort can be found in Christ’s final encouragement to His disciples when He said, “Remember, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20 CSB, emphasis added). May we keep these truths at the forefront of our minds as we live for Christ in such a time!

About the Author

Samantha Rodriguez

Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.