When I think about cultural integrity I think about perfume or cologne. This is why… you can take the same fragrance and 5 different people wear it and, because of differences in body chemistry, it will smell slightly different. It’s the same fragrance, but how it smells depends on who’s wearing it. That’s what I think about when it comes to disciples of Jesus living with cultural integrity. The gospel does not change — it’s the same throughout time and across cultures. But as the gospel is planted in the soil of any cultural context, as it bears fruit through new disciples and churches it will “smell” like that culture.
Peter tells us, in 1 Peter 2:9-10, that God has made those who trust in the gospel into a chosen race. God’s heart is to ransom people by the blood of Jesus from every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev. 5:9), and for that new race of people to be a royal priesthood that proclaims his wonderful deeds and his saving power to all nations (Psalm 67). As we walk in cultural integrity, we live as the people of God — transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ — daily rubbing shoulders with those who have yet to hear the gospel or respond to the Savior. Speaking of his wonderful deeds and saving power in the everyday rhythms of life is our privilege as we serve to introduce them to One who rescues from sin and gives life!
Let’s humbly ask Jesus to use us in the spaces we work, live and play on a regular basis to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere (2 Cor. 2:14). Let’s ask him to give us opportunities to contribute to the culture-shaping conversations that inform the arts, business, government and the academy. And as those opportunities are opened to us, let’s proclaim the One who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, with the great hope and expectation that those around us might trust in the Savior!