Christian Living | 61 comments | 5 min read

Want to Reach the Culture for Christ?

Three steps to get started 

Jan 18, 2024

Susan Narjala

Guest Contributor

I recently came across a social media post that read: “You are called to be the salt of the earth. Not the salt of the church.” 

The words hit home. I find that I am at my “saltiest” within a church setting. If I were to extend the analogy to the verse in Matthew 5 about being the light of the world, I am most incandescent within a women’s fellowship or mid-week Bible study group. 

For most of us, it is far more comfortable and convenient to do life within our Christian bubbles rather than pop into a culture that doesn’t understand or accept us. While we may regularly interact with people who hold differing views at our workplaces, kids’ playgroups, or book clubs, we tend to disengage from meaningful conversations for fear of causing offense or being labeled as “one of those” Christians. 

Jesus often withdrew to commune with the Father. He even spent 40 days in the wilderness preparing for the ministry that was to follow. But from Scripture, we see that He spent most of His time with others—often with those who disagreed with or even openly opposed Him. While Jesus spent time teaching and training His disciples, He also attended wedding feasts, ate with tax collectors and “sinners,” walked with crowds milling around Him, performed miracles in unlikely places, and had multiple conversations with Pharisees who attempted to bait Him with their legalism. 

What would it look like to engage the culture like Jesus? 

Sift through our intentions 

In John 9, we read about Jesus healing the blind man at the pool of Siloam. While He had compassion on the man, Jesus also explained that the intent of this miracle would be so “the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:4). 

As we engage culture, we may first need to sift through our intentions. Why are we stepping out of our comfortable Christian cohorts? To win brownie points from the Lord? To testify at church about fulfilling the Great Commission? Or to truly display the glory of God by pointing others to Him? May it be obedience to our calling and a desire to glorify God that compel us to engage the world. 

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May it be obedience to our calling and a desire to glorify God that compel us to engage the world.

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Seek out the vulnerable

If our heart’s intention is to glorify God, then we will be attentive to those ignored on the sidelines, we will notice those who have been rejected, and we will have compassion for those who are mistreated. Just as Jesus sought out the blind man when he was cast out by the Jews for his testimony, our ministry to our neighbours will often involve coming alongside the vulnerable even when it is inconvenient.  

We cannot expect to engage the culture while also remaining comfortable. Practically speaking, that may mean carving out empty space in our schedules to simply be there for others. May we pray for wisdom to meet people where they are, build relationships with them, gently ask questions, listen to their stories, and look for opportunities to share the gospel. 

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We cannot expect to engage the culture while also remaining comfortable.

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Speak the truth in love

As with the Pharisees who opposed Jesus and refused to acknowledge Him as the Messiah, there will be people who embrace their own versions of “truth.” Do we back down from sharing with them, knowing we are setting ourselves up as targets of ridicule and criticism? 

While we need to use our God-given discernment to not “cast pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6), we are also called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Speaking the truth without love veers toward legalism. Speaking only loving words without truth veers toward recklessness. We are called instead to present counter-cultural truth that points to the compelling beauty of Christ. 

May we seize those opportunities to engage the culture and be the salt and light of the world, and not just the salt and light of the church. 

About the Author

Susan Narjala is a writer and speaker based in Bangalore, India. She has contributed to several Christian publications including Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, and InCourage. She regularly posts on susannarjala.com. She has also written over a dozen Bible plans for the YouVersion app. Susan attended BSF in Chennai, India, and Portland, Oregon. She is married to Ranjit, a software engineer. They are currently busy raising their two teenage kids and are active at their local church.

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61 Comments

  1. Excellent treatise on ‘Counter Culture Truth’

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  2. Thank you Susan for the reminder. It is so easy to settle into the comfort zone of ministry to those that are already Christians and thereby neglect to be salt and light to the world that so desperately needs them (salt and light)

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  3. For those who work every day, there is no place more difficult to stand for what is right than on your JOB. A decision to stand is made difficult by the fact that you could lose your job and impact your life and the lives of your family and loved ones. Jesus provides the best example of what can happen when you stand, but STAND, we must! Know that when you found the job you have, you were LOOKING for a job, and just like GOD helped you get that job, he’ll help you get another.

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  4. Yeah it’s good to be asalt
    Salt has got great benefits it’s used to add test ‘for preservation ‘it heals the wounds and so own
    So iwould like to be a salt

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    • I love Bible study fellowship studying The Gospel of John. What Jesus death meant for me. He willingly sacrificed himself for our sins what a loving God

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  5. What a great point, it’s easy to be our saltiest and our lightest among our fellow Christians! After church service or prayer groups, it’s so desirable to stay in the safety & encouragement of brothers & sisters in Christ & dread going “out there”. Thanks to the Holy Spirit for compelling us to “go & tell” then leading us & equipping us to interact as Christ did, in love & truth. He alone is the One who directs the outcomes of our encounters; we must be obedient, no matter how uncomfortable we may feel, we ARE the salt & light!

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  6. Thank you for the Blog post. On Being Salt

    Sharing Christ in & through the culture is something I have often tried to do and ( been surprised by) success in the effort. I believe it’s probably the only way to make Christ so tasty ,He cannot be resisted!

    One eg. Years ago, before even knowing BSF existed, but having met/ enchanted by, Jesus, I was in a rural but relatively educated, part of India. On a research project doing field work.

    I was with an ANM- , today’s ASHA workers, or basic Rural Health Workers.. in a village. Suddenly the ANM asked me, “Are you a Christian?'” My name or appearance wouldn’t have indicated it- it is a Sanskrit name- but apparently the behavior did- a CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO BE SALT – in a caste and community ridden society of divisions. It opened a channel to share the Gospel of God’s Love. And how it manifests even in small situations.

    Likewise at a Bus stop. ON THE RLWAY STATION!!. Everywhere.

    LET’S ALL SEEK THE OPPORTUNITY. They are how each of us, outside the Church, can be Jesus’ little finger, tasty like salt, showing Him.

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    • Thank you for sharing! So encouraging Sarala

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  7. Saltiest inside the church is a description that hit me. Most Christians at my church are like that, including me. This encourages me to step out of my comfort to intentionally give glory to God through being salt and light. Thank you for the reminder! God bless you more!

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  8. How grateful I am to have come across this exceptionally written article from Susan. Engaging our culture has become even more trying as the culture has become even more antagonistic towards Christianity.
    I am challenged by your insights to remember that Jesus is my example and with His empowerment I can step out of my church comfort zones to be His light and salt.

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  9. So True thank you for this post.

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  10. I am truly blessed to read and to understand more clearly how to witness for Christ. My prayer is that I will move out of my comfort and engage with others outside my church.

    Thank God for your message.

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  11. Very helpful article. I love looking for those who stand on the sidelines- the left out or vulnerable. The Lord has really put it on my heart to get out and be bold and loving with my faith. Thank you for confirming that call!

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  12. This hit home for me and I feel I needed it 20-30 years ago but believe God’s timing is perfect. I will take it to heart and continue to grow in His word. Thanks Susan!

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  13. I’m looking forward with great excitement to receive this news letter

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  14. Thank you Susan N. I have been really encouraged. Just yesterday I could seize an opportunity to tell about Jesus; I asked to the Lord to take away the susceptibility ( we look like ridicule, we are dispised); Our heavenly Father covers us with His glory; We fellow Christians , will continue to spread the Gospel.

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  15. This has really opened my eyes spiritually. May God help me to venture out of my comfort zone. May God bless you as you continue to teach us more and more.

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  16. I’m feeling uncomfortable in church! I’m retired now and have been seeking to know what Our Father’s will is – what He wants me to do. I’ve noticed there are no men teaching Sunday school. No Not one. This will be uncomfortable for me if I realize a child is learning nothing of God from their parents at home. When they come to get their children from Sunday school, how can God work through me to inspire them to take time in teaching their child the ways of God that is counter to this culture that kids need so much to know God’s Ways are The Best!

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  17. Interesting that was helpful, spending time whith , people, not just being conftable , dobe that last night, anyway went weal , and fealt God was whith me , eventhough fealt some what uncountable was made feel some what coftable . Was nice . How many times do we feel uncountable and God is whith us reaching out to others around us as weal God is good in all his ways . god bless Mrs Susan Gibb oxox.

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  18. Praise God for BSF and people that give of their time to teach!
    as we followship and work with a fallen world.
    This article says so much of what i needed to hear and move on.
    Aman

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  19. God touched my heart through this post. I was compelled to search my heart about engaging my community. Just this Thursday I prayed that God would resurrect dead places in my relationships. My community was one of them. I did not know what He would do with that prayer. This message compelled me in this way:
    As we engage culture, we may first need to sift through our intentions. Why are we stepping out of our comfortable Christian cohorts? To win brownie points from the Lord? To testify at church about fulfilling the Great Commission? Or to truly display the glory of God by pointing others to Him? May it be obedience to our calling and a desire to glorify God that compel us to engage the world.

    Then
    “May it be obedience to our calling and a desire to glorify God that compel us to engage the world.”
    Then:

    “We cannot expect to engage the culture while also remaining comfortable.”

    Finally:

    May we seize those opportunities to engage the culture and be the salt and light of the world, and not just the salt and light of the church.

    Praying that God leads me to seize the opportunity to be salt and light in my community that He leads me to without hesitation!

    Reply
  20. Beautiful article let us remember how we were when Jesus found us.mand let us look at others through the eyes of Jesus.

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  21. I really liked the way you pointed out that we need to serve outside the comfort zone of the Church. Engage with people of different cultures. The only way to connect, for me, is to join in their festival celebrations which I avoid. They keep inviting me for all the Poojas etc. Is it right to comply to all this? I know of my church members who sing songs during their festivals & they are able to connect well.

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  22. I resonate with this article since culture can sometimes blinded unless there is real transformation. BSF for me has proved great in. this kind of removing such scales. This idea of counter-cultural. truth need to be embraced though it sounds like Greek to some and yet the only way to truth and staying salty.
    Thank you Susan

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  23. Susan, what a beautiful, well thought out article! Yes, The “Body of Christ” needs to ‘put on” serving God and others above self! ” God will present opportunities, for us to say yes to, every day!

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  24. Thank you for writing this article. We need salt in our world today.

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  25. Brilliant article, thank you! Like it or not, we are IN the world. My prayer is that we would see the world as one hurting person at a time. Build a relationship before dumping a truckload of salt!

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  26. This was interesting to read when thinking about the work I do with the homeless population. I feel I speak loving words without the truth out of not knowing what to say to this group of ppl. My heart’s intention is to glorify God, but I am lost for words to lead them to Christ that would have meaning to them.

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    • I worked with a homeless population for about 7years. I found that praying for them to come to Christ first & then praying for myself to love each one with the love of Christ made a tremendous difference in their wanting to experience that love for themselves & eventually their loved ones. Did many come to Christ? No. But it did soften their hearts to want to know more & experience more of His love. I believe Jesus sent others to them to lead them further toward Him.

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  27. Beautiful writing.

    Very clearly articulating the changes that happened over the past 11 years at a BSF on-line plant in Kelowna.

    Recognizing that we must fight cultural Christianity, which is a Comfort and Joy model that enables the believer to become complacent.

    Remembering being taught at BSF that compromise is a sin: we must obey God to the letter as He is the one who gives us the strength to carry on and proceed through his work at hand.

    Rejoicing with Susan that we can be salt that preserves souls and flavours the lives around us. Jesus is super salty as we study John this year when the establishment turned from following Elohim to be willing to sacrifice a Jew to the Roman god machine. Notice the way is not a smooth path but a worthy path to pick up our cross and care for those around us, including the stranger. The good Christian can care by sharing the gospel.

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  28. Thank you for the insightful article written by Susan Narjala on reaching our culture with the gospel. The studies in John have taught us how Jesus made time for people, his compassion and love prompts the same in those who love Him and want to make Him known.

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  29. We cannot expect to engage the culture while also remaining comfortable.
    Quote from above I hope and pray that I can reach that point of always being comfortable doing the work the Lord has asked us to do. With his peace and confidence I believe it is possible for I do not believe that Jesus ever felt uncomfortable and he did say that we can do what he has done and even greater things, God willing. Thank you for your encouraging blog, God bless. Graham.

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  30. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

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  31. I definitely needed to hear this as I was contemplating how can God use me. The church also needs to hear this and may they have ears to hear also. Thanks for the courage to bring this out in the open and that we are convicted by it’s truth.

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  32. Thank you very helpful.God bless you.

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  33. I truly enjoyed this article and it validated many things placed on my heart.
    I’m involved in my church ministry, Seasoned Adults Living Triumphantly (SALT). We’re trying to get our members 50 years and older to remain active while realizing we are vibrant and have so much Kingdom Building to do.
    This article reminded me that we got to continue reaching those outside the community to make an impact also.

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  34. Thank you for keeping us focused on our purpose and reminding us to not let up for anything.

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  35. I found this to be very encouraging, how does my light shine. We do need to balance these two worlds that we find ourselves living and shining. I do find much brokenness in the Church body, I ask the Holy Spirit to lead guide and direct me and get out of my comfort zone. Thank you for sharing and leading us to shine our light in different areas in our Christian walk. God Bless

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  36. Susan Narjala’s challenge to be Salt and light to the lost and not just to my Church, has really resonated with me. Her words and message describes exactly what I am doing. It’s easy to be Salt and light to the saved!
    She has inspired me to get out of my comfortable bubble and really try to help those I know who are lost.
    Thank you .

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  37. Excellent resource thank you so much.

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  38. Thank you Susan for the re-awakening! Your piece resonates with me, yes, staying in our comfort zones, many times I’ve found myself there. If I want to be like Jesus, then I need to go out there where they need to hear the gospel, be it a comfortable place or not. And to communicate with God all the time for that’s where I my help comes from.
    May God be our helper🙏

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  39. I am very blessed by the author’s comments and needed to make heads and tails of Rom 13:1 when overstretched.

    Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

    I am also encouraged by the sharings and development of BSF in this current digital world, and want to thank those brothers and sisters who had and are working relentlessly. Amen.

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  40. Dear Sister
    Thank you for your sharing. May your works be blessed to bring more people to God. I agree with you in stressing that telling the truth in lovely way is a must. Most of the time; when we go out off our confort zone, we think that we have the authority and the right to be listened and followed by the needed and vulnerable people. Doing His Will with Compassion and kindness is the best way to bring light and Salt in this materialistic world

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  41. I have enjoyed reading this about being the salt of the earth. Though I love being around like-minded people , I do understand the importance and significance of reaching out to those that are not lik-minded and sharing the light and love of Christ. I have prayed often to be more bold in this and I have over the last ten years, worn my faith on my sleeve, and I can truly see some seeds grow. 🙂

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  42. This was an awesome article. I have at time was afraid of getting out of my comfort zone but with Jesus guidance I came out and I can share the gospel with others.

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  43. Great article. It’s where the salt is needed

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  44. Thank you for providing an amazing opportunity to study the Bible in an environment I truly love.

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  45. This was a wonderful article.I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I to thought of the salt of the earth.we all have to step outside of the comfort zone and reach as many people as we can.

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  46. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am guilty of remaining silent at gatherings where most of the people are unbelievers. I am praying that I will begin to speak boldly in love. And that I will depend on the Holy Spirit to lead me.

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    • I have been labeled as one of those Christians and even going against the culture at the workplace where success and money is their God where the conversations only surround these goals. I find in BSF I am being prepared to depend on the Holy Spirit and pray that the Lord of the harvest will use me as the salt and light if the world even when I fall short to obey by presenting the truth of Christ to display the Glory of Christ.

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    • Thank you Susan for sharing the importance of Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Unbelievers I pray that the Holy Spirit guide me and also help me with my approach and delivery that I might be Salt and light to those who do not know my Savior Jesus Christ.

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  47. Awesome blog. Thank you Susan for giving insights on how we are to follow Jesus in the days we live in. There are so many conflicts out there. What is our purpose? The same as Jesus’, to love the ones who are lonely and needing a listening ear, maybe a thoughtful question that will help them see their situation and the love of Jesus.

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  48. I appreciate that God’s provided us the safe haven of our BSF family to stretch and build our spiritual muscles, habits and understanding of scripture. It’s often safer and more nurturing than many of our churches. Thanks for reminding us that we do need to step out to share the joy of what we learn and the healing we’ve found in Jesus

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  49. Words of Wisdom, invaulable challenges, totally worth the read then follow with Prayer for obedience!

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  50. Ouch! thank you for writing this and challenging me on where I am being salt and my motivation for being salt.

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    • I find that most of the evangelim efforts that I see don’t resemble the way Christ chose to seek the lost. Sets me to take pause.
      Loved the article.

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  51. Thank you. Its that season on history where the need for Jesus can’t be denied. It is well taken that planning to carve out the time to engage with those our eyes and brain recognize need to be new creations in Christ may be the Spirit calling us to that very task. For me it is specifically the homeless. . . corner beggars: Are they tricksters? It matters not, they wear their obvious need for Jesus.

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  52. I needed to read this because I am listening for the Lord’s guidance on helping a Syrian friend who is in America. The Lord has shown me that I need to learn more about their culture, so that I can be prepared to give a loving defense for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as I seek to help them with their situation. This article gives me confidence in moving forward in this relationship, as I follow Christ’s lead.

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    • 👍 input for the day GREAT!!! Comfortable zones are nice BUT the command is to preach (spread the word) so ALL will hear 👂 of the Savior. Discouraged, tempted to quit? DON’T!!! There’s lots yet to be done. Thanks 🙏. Donna

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  53. Agree with entire article. I’d like to add that when the Holy Spirit leads you, bring up the subject of being “born again” in your own simple words. That is what Jesus said we have to do to enter the “kingdom of God”. (John 3)

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  54. This was excellent. It is so true that I need to be proactive and intentional to have my eyes, ears and mind open to who I can care for and share Jesus with. This is what Jesus did. As a follower of Jesus, I am called to do the same.

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