When we're part of a culture, especially one that purports to be Christian, it is easy to passively accept its norms as okay. Yet, as Christians, okay needs to mean it is pleasing to God. There are many practices, activities, people, and ways of viewing these, etc., that displace God, and are unfair and negating of self and neighbor. Yet, it is amazing how we hold up many of the icons of the day with little regard to how the Bible would see them and specifically how they fit with love of God and neighbor. If we are unable to do this for ourselves it becomes easier to allow these icons to be the main story in the lives of our students. The question Sondra Matthaei asks in the opening chapter of our book, Loving God, Loving Neighbor: Ministry With Searching Youth therefore, needs consideration and an answer: "How could we have come to this place, abandoning our youth to the culturally mediated icons, and how might the church make a difference" (Matthaei 2008, 25)? To put this a different way, how did we get to the point where we have abdicated our responsibility for our youth and allowed it to be replaced with cultural types and symbols and how can the church bring about a shift in this matter?
We cannot escape our culture, but we can be engaged in critiquing it in the light of the gospel. Moreover, we cannot simply allow the images and symbols of our time as they come through various media to be the main formative influences in our students' lives. We need to be present with them, accompanying them, pointing to, and lifting up God in Christ Jesus as we love God and neighbor.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor