How do you expect unbelieving friends, family, and neighbors to react to your faith? Many of the best evangelists expect to win them to faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve found I often expect hostility. And that’s probably a product of growing up in a churchgoing but not evangelical home, and then attending college where my beliefs were clearly marginal. It comes more naturally for me, then, to live my faith as a countercultural act. Even so, I admire other Christians who more naturally advocate for our faith as a public good.
You may have heard Tim Keller say, “We must be a counterculture for the common good.” That statement can be found in The Gospel Coalition’s Theological Vision of Ministry in section three on contextualization, which asks, “How should we relate to the culture around us?” The counterculture for the common good brings together biblical expectations that we often pit against each other. We must stand apart from the world, for the sake of the world.
I love this line from our theological vision, which derives from 1 Peter 2:12. TGC affirms, “We are neither overly optimistic nor pessimistic about our cultural influence, for we know that, as we walk in the steps of the One who laid down his life for his opponents, we will receive persecution even while having social impact.” In other words, some will hate us because of Jesus, even as we make a difference in this world for his sake.
To learn more about contextualization I’ve invited Darryl Williamson to join me on The Gospel Coalition Podcast. He is the lead pastor of Living Faith Bible Fellowship in Tampa, Florida, and a Council member of The Gospel Coalition.
Listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition Podcast and check out other episodes in the series Why We Need Theological Vision.