So, I have to write a paper for my Senior Seminar class that is concerned with Christ and His response to culture (for, against, etc). This is probably going to be one of the few papers that I will enjoy writing (minus taking all the time to get the research done). That being said, as I flush my thoughts out a little I thought I would share what I have gotten. People are free to comment in agreement or disagreement but keep in mind this isn't totally thought out, it's just the initial thoughts.
Was Christ For or Against Culture?
All throughout Scripture we can see that God likes to work with what is already in existence to do the things He wants to get done. For example, Jesus taught the law that the Jews knew so well. To be more specific He taught the law that God gave and not the other "interpretations" of the law that came later. Rather than creating something new from nothing, Jesus refined the understanding of the law, which in turned had a new affect. So, my first argument is that Christ is for culture. The reason I say this is because if Christ, who is God, was against culture, why would God create a law in the first place? The very essence of the law creates a culture. Why wear the same clothes, and speak the same language? I guess what I'm really trying to say is that Christ seemed to want to redeem and refine the culture that was already in lace. He saw the potential that each disciple had, that each person has, and decided we were all worth the love he gave and the blood he shed.
Christ clarified the law. As stated in Scripture He did not come to "abolish the law, but to fulfill it". Again I argue that God's law created a culture. By the time Christ was born on Earth, however, that culture has become corrupted many times over. Jesus' teachings were meant to bring people back to the culture that God had established, but with a different look. Before this point there is no understanding of what God really wants when He gives us the law, because the people weren't ready; but Jesus refines the understanding here by clarifying what is meant and explaining (perhaps subtly) what the "spirit" of the law was.
If Christ was against culture, then shouldn't His disciples also be against culture? Then why did Paul choose to become "all things, to all men, that I might save some"? Surely the implications of being part of their culture in order to relate can be found in this verse. Or what of the Gentiles Paul talked to, were they supposed to reject culture? No. the only way for Christians to escape culture is to confine themselves away from everyone else (which is horribly unhealthy).
Despite how much a part of culture Christ was, there were aspects that He openly disagreed with and purposefully chose not to practice. All of which were things that were seen as unpleasing and sinful in God's sight. His disciples evidenced this aspect in their own life as well, and we as followers of Christ should also exhibit this behavior.
In conclusion: Christ did not aim to replace the culture He was in, but rather, He aimed to redeem and refine it to what it was originally planned to be. He became the catalyst to set that refinement in motion.
So the question then is, How should we react?
More thoughts to come after the break.