Radiation is the emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles through space or through a material medium. Radiation weakens and breaks up DNA, either damaging cells enough to kill them or causing them to mutate in ways that may eventually lead to cancer. We all know that radiation is killer, but what makes it the most dangerous is that it is an unseen predator. Without the proper equipment, and the implementation of that equipment, radiation can slowly, quietly, destroy us.
The next few blogs will be focused on things that we allow into our lives that seem like, “no big deals,” but that are, in fact, harming our souls. These things often go undetected and ignored as they attempt to pull us away from God and the life He has called us to. My fear, as I discuss these things, is sounding like a Pharisee. I realize that on a grace and truth scale my natural instinct is to weight communication to the side of truth, and this is not my heart’s desire. I pray that as we journey through the cultural radiation you will know that the intent is to help us follow Christ who offers, life and life to the fullest; and that we would recognize some the toxins we’ve allowed in our lives which are corrupting what God has created.
In order this to happen, we must start to equip ourselves with two things. First, we must have a belief that God loves us. Many of the things we are going to talk about are difficult, and counter cultural. If we begin with belief that God loves us and wants the best for us then the difficulties will be seen as exercises toward the full life God promises. Second, we need to trust that He can see the effects of this cultural radiation, even when we can’t. Once again, many of the things we will talk about are so ingrained in our culture that we may often ask, “what’s the big deal?” From our perspective it may not seem like something we really need to address. It’s in these times that we need to remember that radiation cannot be seen, but eventually the devastating effects of it can. God is in the eventually, as an omnipresent father, so we trust that the “no big deal” things that he addresses are poisonous.
Lastly, I want to caution you to not to retreat from this world in fear. In Jesus’ time there were a group of people called the Essenes. The culture that they lived in was one that relished cultural radiation, and saw the God of Israel as a joke (sound familiar). In effort to protect themselves, they withdrew from the culture they lived in. This was and is a tempting thing to do in a world that dismisses Jesus followers. But Jesus, right before he is crucified, prays for his disciples and future believers making this statement, “I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.” Do you see it? Jesus asks for protection because he sends us into the radiation of culture. We are supposed to be set apart, holy, so that we can bring health to a sick world. We are to bring life to the world, not leave them to die. We must let Christ cleanse us and protect us from the radiation as we allow Christ to work through us, with the ones who are infected (notice that we all are infected and it is Christ, not our good works or piety that cleanses). Too often, out of fear of the cultural radiation, we become Essenes, and this is not what Christ wants. Just look at Christ’s life- He entered this mess to provide life.
As we journey together may we begin to see the cultural radiation in our life that God may want to root out of us so that we can grow, be encouraged, and encounter God in ways that many of us have been eagerly anticipating for quite some time. And may we see the life that Christ offers as an undeserved grace, which motivates us to share His life with the world.
If you are between the ages of 18-28, join us Thursday nights 7-9 at Westgate Church's theater (1735 Saratoga Ave. San Jose 95008). We will be exploring topics of cultural toxins for the next number of weeks.