Over at Glory to God for All Things, Fr. Stephen has posted some thoughts on the Christian life and its influence on culture. I especially enjoyed his comments on death and life. He writes:
One of the delightful qualities of life is that it only has to be lived, not invented. Thus we do not need to worry about how we are to transform this culture any more than a grain of wheat has to worry about becoming a stalk of wheat. It just has to die and be planted.
He goes on to exhort readers to live lives of fulness. “Orthodoxy needs only to live its life in its fullness – for this is the Life of God and it will bear abundant fruit – because it is Life.” Forgive me, Fr. Stephen, but I would expand this statement from Orthodoxy to Christianity as a whole. We need not make the mistake of Evangelicalism (and Reformed Christianity) and expend our energies trying to legislate Christian morals superficially upon an unbelieving society (see my previous post here), neither should we retreat from society a la Fundamentalism and remove Christian influence from the city square. Instead, we deliberately live our lives to the fullest and so influence the culture around us as salt and light.
While Fr. Stephen calls us to live, Bonhoeffer simultaneously calls us to die (see here). Both write in the name of exhorting Christians to follow Christ. Both, I believe, are exactly right even though they are approaching the subject from different directions. In fact, Fr. Stephen uses the metaphor of dying with his example of the wheat. To try and combine both men’s words:
- We must die, like the wheat seed. Christ calls us to die to sin and self, leaving all behind to follow him.
- We must live, like the wheat stalk. It does what is natural–grows and bears grain. So too, as Christians, we do what is natural (in our new birth)–grow and bear fruit.
In our death, we die to our old selves and our old ways…it is at once a punctilliar and continuous event, our one-time death and our continual struggle with indwelling sin. In our life, we grow and bear fruit. It is in this life, lived in its fullness and abundance, that we influence culture, naturally.