I had great fun on Bank Holiday Monday putting on activities to amuse, challenge and inspire the people of Kingston as part of the annual May Merrie. On the green outside the parish church we had a tent where children could make name bracelets and name plates for their bedroom doors and in the church we had an art installation exploring the importance of our names and the names of God. In the marketplace, there was an opportunity to have a free spiritual reading using Ruach cards that use biblical and Celtic Christian symbolism to bless and reveal God’s love and purpose in Christ to spiritual seekers.
For some Christians this is a controversial activity that is unnecessary because they believe the good news of salvation available to all because of Jesus’ death on the cross does not need to be made culturally relevant. This is because the gospel has sufficient power and potency in its unadulterated purity to attract unbelievers without being dressed up or applied to the way we live. Yet the bible describes Jesus as ‘the word made flesh who dwelt among us’. He became the living embodiment of the rescue mission that God undertook for humankind and all of creation. If God himself could be clothed with the gospel in order for us to understand and receive it, are we not called to do the same? Can any idea be understood distinct from its cultural context? As David Bosch put it in, ‘Transforming Mission’, “The gospel always comes to people in cultural robes. There is no such thing as a ‘pure’ gospel isolated from culture” (p.297). The reality for most Christians is that this is an academic question. It is so long since they intentionally sought to share the gospel that they do not see the pressing need for the transforming message of Christ to be radically re-interpreted for our predominantly post-modern culture. Always quick to criticise those of us who are wrestling with this issue, I suggest they leave the safety of their Christian bunkers and enter into a dynamic dialogue with those of us who might make mistakes, but are desperate to see the oppressed freed from injustice, the broken healed and the empty satisfied. Which do you think God is more concerned about, doctrinal purity or pursuing a passion that all might experience His life-giving, all encompassing love and acceptance?