Every Friday in Sacred Space, Brad Williams explores the place of popular culture in the local church.
Here at Christ and Pop Culture, we try to take a look at the culture, both inside and outside the church. We try to see how we are influenced by culture, both for the good and for the bad, and we talk about the contributions that we can make to culture as Christians. I love that about this site. My particular contribution is to examine the crossover between the local church and culture, and I confess that this week it has been particularly tough for me.
This week, many will gather at the local church who only come on this day. It is a part of their culture. They will dress up beautifully, get the kids ready, go to church, come home for lunch, and let the kids look for Easter eggs. Many churches will do a great musical; the preacher will preach a nice sermon. It’s part of tradition. It’s ingrained in the culture I live in.
And this is precisely why I have a hard time at Easter. The once a year folks do not get it, and I say that with sorrow. They will go back to their jobs, and sports, and hobbies, and kids, and life. Once a year, they will go to church as a hat tip to their Christian roots, and it will feel right to them. But they don’t really understand the fellowship of the saints, and the resurrection of the dead hasn’t impacted them as it should.
The church is because the resurrection is coming; the church is because Christ rose from the dead. It is our reason for being. It is why we play sports and watch movies and even the reason we enjoy our food. The resurrection dominates the landscape of church’s mind and mission. It is why we fight about abortion, agonize over playing t-ball on Sunday, hate divorce, protest homosexual marriage, and it is why we aggravate our non-Christian neighbors. How does the resurrection cause such problems? Why would good news lead to conflict?
Last week, I spent a good deal of time in the hospital. My grandmother is ailing; her heart is failing. She had the choice of going home to die within six months, or trying open heart surgery from which she might never awake. She had only pain to look forward to, no matter the decision. This week, we did not talk of her beloved Atlanta Braves, or her favorite TV show, or about my adventures in hunting with grandpa. None of that mattered. What mattered is that she was facing down death and headed for suffering, and in that moment she needed me to hold her hand and say that Christ was risen, and that she will rise too.
That’s what the church has to offer culture: the resurrection from the dead through Jesus Christ. Somehow, by engaging the culture, we have to make them see the glory of God in Christ, dying to reconcile a sinful, distracted world. This Sunday is our big chance. They will come because of tradition. They will come because of their cultural upbringing. May God shake us all and remind us that what really matters is the empty grave and the hope we have in Christ.