The breaking makes a sound I never knew
Could be so beautiful and loud
Fury filled and we collide
So courageous until now, fumbling and scared
So afraid You’ll find me out
Alone here with my doubt
Here it comes, a beautiful collision
Is happening now
There seems no end to where You begin and
There I am now
You and I collide
“A Beautiful Collision”
-David Crowder Band
I grew up in the culture wars of the 90’s in a time when it seemed like the church couldn’t figure out what to do with the music, television, movies, and art that was being produced. Many in the conservative evangelical world of my upbringing wanted to have little to do with anything new and were in fact leading a movement back to the values and culture of a time gone by. Others wanted to embrace the sounds, techniques, and thoughts and use them in their own work, which was done to varying degrees of success. I remember when asking my mom for the new DC Talk Jesus Freak cd she wanted to call the band’s manager to discuss some rumors of the disturbing use of some African tribal rythmns which she worried could be carrying a sinister message.
Now two decades later many Christians are still struggling to understand how we are to interact with the world around us. People are drawn to popular music, engaging shows, powerful movies, and compelling books. Yet many in the church are unsure how to receive them. Some pastors are creating sermon series on popular movies and shows and others are teaching their congregations that their children’s spiritual well-being is in jeopardy if they read Harry Potter. I believe that what people are really trying to discern is a question similar to one the Pharisees asked “Where is the Kingdom of God?”
Jesus spent a lot of time teaching about the Kingdom of God through his Sermon on the Mount or in the many parables he told. The miracles he performed pointed people to truths about the Kingdom. This naturally led people to wonder where was this Kingdom. It certainly didn’t appear to be one of political rule or military might. Jesus also didn’t seem particularly interested in acquiring religious power. Jesus seemed to spend time talking with people that most assumed would not be a part of God’s Kingdom or at least not very important in it. He allowed little children to spend time in his presence, he went to Samaria and proclaimed the truth of living water to a woman who was a social pariah, and even included tax collectors and a rebel into his group of disciples.
Finally in Luke 17:20-21 the Pharisees ask, in my paraphrase, “When is this Kingdom you keep talking about going to show up?” Jesus replied by saying that the Kingdom is not found in a place that can be pointed out or located on a map. In his words “the kingdom of God is among you.” The Kingdom of God was found in the community of believers who were following Christ. It was found in the life given to those who were dead and in the restoration to community that the lepers found in their healing. The Kingdom of God was found in surprising places that people didn’t expect.
So as I engage with culture in this blog I plan to do so looking for the unexpected places that truths about God’s Kingdom can be found. Looking for the pieces of our art and expression that can direct people to the heart and love of God. As the song quoted at the top of the article expresses this can be a messy and terrifying process but in the end it reveals something that is beautiful. I hope you will join me on this beautiful collision of culture and the Kingdom.