Resemble the Culture of our Communities or Remove Ourselves From Them? Neither, Restore Them By Seeking their Welfare.

What follows is a taste of what is covered in the first session of Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything. In his discussion on Jeremiah 29:4-14, Tim Keller shows us that the Babylonians were calling the Hebrew people to assimilate into the pagan culture of Babylon and thus lose their spiritual identity by becoming like the Babylonians. Yet, the false prophets were calling the Hebrew people to isolate themselves from Babylon and to become hostile towards it, so they would not lose their distinct spiritual identity. Do you see the tension?

Possibly you are experiencing the same type of tension in your community. On the one hand, you might feel the temptation to resemble the culture and thus lose your gospel identity; or on the other hand, you might feel the pressure from some religious leaders to segregate yourself from the culture so you do not lose your gospel identity. Yet, what does God say through Jeremiah to the children of God who are experiencing exile within pagan communities? Jeremiah is calling the Jews to something all together different from the positions above. In the video portion of this study, Keller states God was calling them to, “…serve and love their new place of residence, rather than resemble or remove themselves from it.” In other words, we are to serve our communities out of our distinct gospel identity.

At this point, some of you might be wondering what this looks like? As instruments in the Redeemer’s hands, the church is called to restore the original purposes of the city. Keller defines the word “city” as “any place of density, diversity and cultural energy.” Within the frame work of redemptive history, the city was meant to be:

  1. Places of refuge and safety
  2. Places of justice
  3. Places of culture development
  4. Places of spiritual seeking and finding

The city is still a place of these purposes, but the brokenness of sin has tainted these in such a way that cities are now:

  1. Places of racism, classism and violence
  2. Places to escape from God and his law
  3. Places of pride, arrogance, excess, overwork and exhaustion
  4. Places of cults and false belief

Yet, as God’s covenant people, we as the church should respond to the gospel in such a way that we become a part of God’s restoring grace by:

  1. Serving and loving those who need help and protection
  2. Bringing God’s love, peace, and justice to bear on a broken world
  3. Creating and  cultivating a culture of humility, moderation, excellent work and Sabbath rest
  4. Holding out Christ as the ultimate satisfaction

In closing, Keller goes on to say, “Work out the gospel in the city, in order to work the gospel into your own heart…Thus, we need the city to spiritually grow, more than the city needs us.”


About Daniel Ray
My wife and I live in Waxhaw, NC. Currently, I am a Sales Manager for a flooring company in Charlotte and also a distance student at UNCG. When I have time I like to hear live music, play golf, run, read good books, hike and ride my mountain bike. My wife and I are sinners saved by grace, trying to walk it out in grace.

One Response to Resemble the Culture of our Communities or Remove Ourselves From Them? Neither, Restore Them By Seeking their Welfare.

  1. Daniel Ray says:

    Gospel Change

    Changing from our self-centered lifestyles to loving and serving the places where we live and work will only happen to the degree we understand and believe the Gospel. What do I mean? Selfless ministry will flow from our hearts when we embrace this reality: In our place, Jesus was cast out and crucified outside of the City of God that was, so we could enter and never be cast out of the City of God that is to come, and by believing this on a day to day basis the Spirit of God will transform us into salt and light for the City that is.

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