Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
The juxtaposition on BBC One was jarring.
Picture the Platinum Jubilee concert, lavishly partying before Buckingham’s brilliantly lit beacon. Then, observe the British Gas Energy Trust campaign, screened the next day, with its Dickensian picture of a single father struggling alone to keep the lights on…
This loving dad bundles his kids out the door, only to disconsolately return inside and switch off every power-sapping device – bulbs, microwave, and boiler alike. He dons a duffle coat in the dark, waiting on a call from a faceless operator to cover his energy debt.
It’s stellar that charities and even the crown have highlighted rising costs of living and redistributed gross profits from gas companies capitalising on war-time supply. This dad is right to say ‘Thank you, Ma’am’ for the systems that offer a hand out in hard times. But we need more than tax breaks, tea-cake, and concerts, if we are truly to be a ‘united’ kingdom.
Let’s imagine this impoverished father is a Christ-follower. Is there a better posture than asking strangers for more gruel to get by?
How about heading cap-in-hand next door for a hand up? For we need to stop the silence around our poverty of neighbourliness, and tendency to go it alone when we need proximal care from a real person.
Calling from the ditch asking good Samaritans to help has precedent. And this mendicant way is surprisingly missional.
The gospel is good news to the poor – and good news through the poor. Jesus’s own celebration and practice of Jubilee eschews bread and circuses (Luke 4), instead calling his disciples to go empty-handed like Elijah to the widow of Zarephath and her terminal son living in fuel poverty, asking for food and lodging in a way that surely makes polite Brits squirm (1 Kings 17).
Yet by receiving hospitality from people of peace in surrounding homes, the disciples model the humility through which every hungry person finds grace (Luke 10). Generosity unleashes miraculous provision, proving God’s reality to the whole neighbourhood. Together they witness this brilliant kingdom come near.
So, let’s drop the shame of asking for a hand up – as Paddington did the Queen – and instead share a marmalade sandwich with those who live and work nearby. Stop the silence, and instead celebrate the simplicity of knocking on their door and asking, ‘Please, Ma’am, would you be my neighbour?’
Better than pomp and ceremony, this may be the start of seeing a beacon of hope shine bright on your very street.
Dr Dave Benson
Culture & Discipleship Director, LICC
Image Source: Buckingham