Last week, John Stonestreet of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview asked me to participate in a Breakpoint symposium with other Christian leaders (Os Guinness, Mindy Belz, Roberto Rivera, David Dockery, and more). We were given the space of 250 words to respond to the following question:
What are the most pressing cultural issues facing Christians in 2018 and what will Christian faithfulness look like in light of those issues?
I encourage you check out the various answers, which go in a number of different directions. I chose to answer this question in two ways, by focusing on the greatest issue worldwide and then looking to the major reason for malaise in many churches in the West. Here’s the answer I sent in:
Worldwide, persecution towards Christians remains the greatest cultural issue. Christians face more persecution than do members of other faiths, and the forms of persecution they experience today are increasingly extreme. For those of us who live in free in societies, Christian faithfulness calls us to “remember those in prison, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily” (Heb. 13:3). In 2018, Christians should look for ways to advocate for brothers and sisters across the world who face extraordinary challenges.
In the West, the most pressing cultural issue facing Christians in 2018 is not external but internal. We suffer from a shriveled moral imagination that has led to a shrunken understanding of the gospel and a corresponding crisis of confidence in its power.
In order to face the external cultural pressures of this age, we must find ways to cultivate a biblically formed imagination so that Christians can resist the powerful pull of nostalgia, see through and see past stale partisan allegiances, and reclaim the importance of character in public and private life. Only a renewed moral imagination can engage stubborn divisions of race and class with something more powerful than the resentment that currently engulfs all sides in the culture wars. Only a renewed moral imagination can proclaim and embody an alternative vision of flourishing in matters related to sexuality and marriage. A renewed moral imagination is necessary for churches to thrive in the midst of cultural upheaval.
There’s so much more to say here, especially when it comes to specifics on how and where and when a moral imagination can be cultivated. but I hope the brevity of my answer may stir up some good reflection on our responsibility as church leaders. There are a number of good responses to this question over at Breakpoint’s Symposium. I recommend you check out the others also.