Forgiveness in Matthew’s Gospel: Introduction

Matthew’s Gospel has long been known as the “Gospel of the Church” because it contains so many parables and passages on the life of the Christian community.[1] Of the many insights which Matthew offered for his community and the community of faith which has read his gospel for nearly 2,000 years, few have been more important than the theme of forgiveness which runs throughout his narrative. Indeed, Bridget Illian has gone so far as to say that, “Forgiveness is one of the foundational acts of Christian practice and theology, and nowhere is it more strongly advocated than in the Gospel of Matthew.”[2]

In order to strike at the heart of Matthew’s theology of forgiveness, this series examines the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant found in Matthew 18:21-35 and considers its theological importance for Christian theology. The arguments of this project are twofold: First, that for Jesus (and Matthew) Christian forgiveness was of paramount importance, holding the community together and proclaiming to the world the good news of God’s love and mercy. True Christian love involves extraordinary forgiveness, recalling our debt to God and His great mercy. Second, that Matthew’s wider theology of forgiveness both informed why he wrote his gospel and how he intended to shape the perceptions of his community. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, along with the Parable of the Two Sons (Matt. 21:28-32) form the backdrop for Matthew’s story of how Jesus saves the world from their sins and redeems even the Jewish people.

The trajectory of this series is fivefold. First, I offer a historical-critical introduction to Matthew’s Gospel. Second, I turn to the context of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. Third, I engage in a verse-by-verse consideration of the meaning of this parable. Fourth, I situate the meaning of this parable within Matthew’s wider narrative theology of forgiveness. Finally, I reflect further on the theological implications of both this parable and Matthew’s wider call to forgiveness from the heart.

[1] Daniel J. Harrington, “Matthew’s Gospel: Pastoral Problems and Possibilities,” 62-73 in The Gospel of Matthew in Current Study: Studies in Memory of William G. Thompson, S.J. (ed. D.E. Aune, Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2001), 70, 73. Matthias Konradt, “’Whoever humbles himself like this child…’ The Ethical Instruction in Matthew’s Community Discourse (Matt 18) and Its Narrative Setting,” 105-138 in Moral Language in the New Testament: The Interrelatedness of Language and Ethics in Early Christian Writings (ed. R. Zimmermann and J.G. van der Watt, Tübigen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 105.

[2] Bridget Illian, “Church Discipline and Forgiveness in Matthew 18:15-35,” Currents in Theology and Mission 37.6 (2010): 444.


Discussing Disputable Matters

Controversial Biblical and theological matters can be a test of a church’s community and ability to practice graceful and respectful conversation. It can also be an opportunity for a community to define themselves theologically and experience the fellowship that accompanies healthy dialogue. Unfortunately, many Christians seem completely unable to listen graciously and dialogue respectfully about controversial topics. In fact, many Christians are so unprepared to talk about controversial topics that they default to either not talking about them at all or take up ill-defined positions without much critical thought. In order to better facilitation discussions of disputable matters (Romans 14:1-12), we offer the following values as starting places for affective and effective conversations. 

1. Respect. The opinions of others are as significant and important as yours. We must be willing to listen to each other in the same way that we hope they would be willing to listen to us.

2. Objectivity. Our own backgrounds, personalities, and experiences have left us with biased opinions. Without recognizing these biases, debate cannot proceed.

3. Scripture. As evangelical Christians, we must remain committed to the authority and inspiration of Scripture, recognizing it as our norming norm on all of life and faith, even if that commitment comes at the expense of our own personal convictions and opinions.

4. Unity. The family of God can and should dialogue about controversial matters without risking the breaking of fellowship or church division (at least with respects to non-essential matters that do not, in and of themselves, define orthodox Christianity). Christian unity, an oft forgotten concept, is and should be important. 

5. Tradition. The historic Christian Church has oftentimes reflected its ignorance, but not always. We are not instantly to assume that we know better than the ancients. Oftentimes, they know better than us. 

6. Openness. Conversely, the Spirit of God is always moving the Church in new directions for the glory of God and the evangelization of the world. We must remain open to new ideas and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

7. Logic. Our best interpretation of Scripture must make sense and cohere with what we know about God, His revelation, the Church, the world, and our own experiences. Although God is mysterious, transcendent, and difficult to comprehend at times, He is not beyond reason or logic.

8. Humility. Many Christians inhibit debate by talking with certain about things they don’t understand. We must approach all conversations with humility—especially complex and contested ones—always remembering that we can learn from those with whom we disagree. 

9. Submission. Although unpopular in today’s independent and democratic world, without theological and organizational leadership the Church would cease to function. We must obey, respect, and submit to our leaders inasmuch as they direct us in godly ways, even if we disagree with them.

Written by Jacob Prahlow, based on article by Matt Herndon

Will There Be Scars in Eternity?

Last week, I wrote about my journey of healing from my heart episode this past winter and how thinking about my PTSD experience like a burn on my leg has been a helpful way for me to conceptualize my experience. I ended by saying that, someday, my mental scar will be all that remains of my experience. But that got me thinking: will there be scars in eternity?

This is admittedly a speculative question. But as I thought about this, one scripture came to mind: Luke 24.39.

After His resurrection, Jesus appears to His disciples and they’re not sure who He is. But He says to them, “Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself!” Jesus expects His disciples to know Him by His scars from the crucifixion. But those scars aren’t debilitating anymore. They’re not holding Him to the cross anymore. They’re part of His story, absolutely. But they no longer limit His resurrected body.

So will there be scars in eternity? Luke 24 seems to say yes. But they’ll be scars that won’t disrupt our lives anymore. And I think this reality matters for how we live our lives.

Following Jesus isn’t a way to escape what’s happened to you. We won’t leave everything about ourselves and our experiences on earth behind at the Resurrection of the dead. Our scars will still be with us. They’ll just be redeemed and restored. The pain that those scars brought will be finished and done. But the parts of who we are forged by those scars won’t magically disappear.

In this way, scars seem a beautiful reminder of the hope of eternity for those who follow King Jesus. Because in Him, someday all of our pain will be the past. It will still have forged us. But all that will remains are our scars.

Like a Burn on My Leg

Since my heart episode and subsequent surgery this winter, I’ve been in counseling. (Yes, a pastor has been in counseling. But that’s a different subject for a different post.) It’s been hard. It’s been eyeopening. It’s been helpful. It’s reaffirmed my belief that people benefit from someone walking with them when they’re experiencing hard times.

One of the best parts of my counseling experience (aside from the ever important, “that’s normal and you’re not completely crazy” reminders that we all benefit from) has been the naming what’s going on with me. This feeling or that experience or this issue–it has a name. It’s something that can talked about and understood and addressed. That’s been an exceedingly helpful practice for me.

And perhaps the most helpful side of those conversations is the recognition that part of what I’ve been dealing with is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Very basically, PTSD is a disorder (confusion or non-systematic functioning) that someone experiences as the result of a traumatic experience or event. We might assume that PTSD is something that happens to military veterans or those involved in natural disasters (which is often very true). But various kinds of PTSD can happen to anyone who’s experienced something traumatic. Like someone who had an emergant heart malfunction at age 29, for example.

For me, realizing that I’ve been dealing with PTSD (among other things) over the past several months has been a helpful paradigm for making sense of my experience. It’s contextualized my experience. It’s helped me find tools that let me address what I’m thinking and feeling. And–most recently–it’s provided me a metaphor to better understand my life over the past several months.

You see, for me, PTSD is like having a burn on my leg.

Let me explain. Several years ago, I was in a biking accident where I got friction burns over about 60% of the skin on one of my legs. (It was not something I’d recommend to anyone.) When the accident happened, there was immediate treatment for my injury. It hurt and it was obvious that something needed to be done about it. And after the initial treatment, there was lots of less-than-pleasant follow up, mostly involving regular debridement of the wound. But after a few weeks, something happened: I began to treat my leg like normal again. Healing was taking place. I was getting mobility back. Things were returning to normal.

Except they weren’t really. Because I still had a huge wound on my leg. It still hurt from time to time. It took months to really heal and during those months, there would be moments of pain. As my skin grew back, it would pull and shoot pain. I’d bump my leg on something and the pain would all come rushing back. The healing process caused tension, and sometimes the healing caused pain.

And my PTSD is the same way. When my heart episode happened, there was immediate treatment and (almost immediate) surgery. And there was follow up treatment as well. But then the pain of recovery continued. Except it wasn’t just physical recovery–it was mental and emotional recovery. And like the occasional pain and tension caused by my leg as it healed, I’ve experienced occasional mental pain and tension too. I’ve bumped my mental pain into things that have caused the pain to all come back. The healing process caused tension, and sometimes the healing caused pain.

My PTSD has been like having a burn on my leg. The healing has taken time. The healing has caused tension. The healing has caused pain. But healing is happening. And some days, I just need to remember that. Some days, I’m going to bump into something that’s uncomfortable or painful. Some days, that’s going to be rough. And other days, I’ll be like nothing ever happened. And that’s okay. Because that’s part of the healing process.

And someday, my PTSD will be like my leg. If you look closely, you can still see the scar outline. And if you’re really observant, you’ll notice that my leg hair grows differently where I was burned. My leg was forever changed by my injury. But it still works. And it doesn’t hurt anymore. The healing is as complete as it will be in this life.

I’m looking forward to the day when I can say the same thing about my mind and spirit. I’ll be forever changed by my experience. But I still work. And someday, the pain will be something in the past.

An Ode to a Home

For the past six years, you’ve been our home. You were our first truly adult decision and purchase. We brought our two kids home for the first time to you. We’ve laughed, cried, sheltered, played, and worked within your walls. You’ve been the place we’ve grown and nourished friendships. You were our haven during lockdown and the craziness of our past year.

You’re old. Many times you were broken. You’ve been the source of many long days of work and nights of frustration. But we learned lots because of you. We learned how to demo walls. We learned how to swap support beams. We learned how not to roof low pitch surfaces. We learned how to care for someplace that belonged to us.

Sometimes, we act like spaces are just the neutral, natural places where we happen to do things. But spaces are formative. They shape what we do, they shape who we are. Spaces shape meaning and experiences. And we’ve been tremendously blessed these past years to have you as our space.

Like the Giving Tree, you gave of yourself to us. And while we say goodbye today, we will always be thankful for you. We’ll miss you and remember you fondly. Thanks 223 W Arlee. You’ll always hold a special place in our hearts.

The Prahlows in front of 223 W Arlee (Summer 2021)

2021 Pixar Movie Rankings

Three years ago, inspired by The Ringer and to commemorate the arrival of The Incredibles 2, I shared some totally subjective rankings of the Pixar films. And I was summarily told, “go watch those movies again, Jacob, because you’re wrong.”

Fortunately, Disney+ arrived on the scene and my now two children love the Pixar films and watch them all the time. So (again inspired by The Ringer) in anticipation of Luca and after many (many) more viewings of these films, here are my updated Pixar Movie Rankings.

Abominations Made in the Name of the Almighty Dollar

23. Toy Story 4
22. Cars 3
21. The Good Dinosaur
I cannot overstate how much I loathe Toy Story 4. It undermines basically every good lesson and story line from the previous three films. And it only kind of tries to hide that fact that Pixar only made it for the money. I literally stop my kids from watching this movie. As for the other films here, they only exist because House of Mouse wants to make more $$$.

Solid, but Not My Favorites

20. Ratatouille
19. Brave

Both of these films are solid entries that I enjoy, but for whatever reason, they’re not my favorites. My siblings ruined Rataouille for me with endless watchings back in the day. And while I appreciate the message of Brave, I’m neither a mother or daughter. Again, I’m not saying these are bad movies (unlike the previous category). But this is where they fall for me.

The Sequels

18. Incredibles 2
17. Cars 2
16. Finding Dory
15. Monsters University
14. Toy Story 2

All of these movies are solid and enjoyable (though some are better than others). The fact that they’re sequels plays for and against them. Some of the stories really suffer, though they receive a nice nostalgia boost because of the well-known characters. I also tend to think of these movies as filling a particular niche service. Do I want to reminisce about college? MonstersU it is. Am I feeling up for spoof-y humor? Toy Story 2 coming up. Do I want to watch a James Bond film without James Bond? Cars 2, at your service.

Let’s Watch Them Again!

13. A Bug’s Life
12. Cars
11. Up
10. Onward

These are movies that I really enjoy and would happily watch with you right now. And they come from different parts of my life. A Bug’s Life was a childhood favorite. Cars was a fun way to connect with my younger siblings while I was in high school. Up came out the year I went off to college and began to figure out my own life’s adventure. And Onward was a tough movie for a tough year that I love for my kids to watch because of the love between Ian and Barley. My only regret with these movies is that I can’t rank them higher.

Supremely Thought Provoking

9. Soul
8. Coco
6. Inside Out

Like the previous category, I’ll watch these movies with you right now. But these films get a boost because we can talk about what they’re communicating after we watch it. As a pastor-theologian, these are some of Pixar’s most conceptually thought-provoking films. Soul and Coco are great tools for thinking about death, the afterlife, purpose, and memory. WALL-E raises great questions about what it means to be human and what care for the world should look like. And Inside Out is superb for helping us visualize how our minds, emotions, and memories work. Someday, I’m going to teach a class on the Theology of Pixar. But until then, I’ll constantly use these films to help explain key concepts about what it means to be human.

The Best of the Best

5. Monsters, Inc.
My criteria for this level of movie is that it gets better with each viewing. And Monsters, Inc. passes the test. John Goodman’s Sully and Billy Crystal’s Mike Wazowski are easily Pixar’s second-most iconic duo.

4. Finding Nemo
Moving. Creative. Funny. An accurate representation of what parents will go through for the sake of their kids. I loved Finding Nemo when it came out, and I’ve come to love it even more since. Since 2018, it’s dropped a spot, but it’s still great.

3. Toy Story 3
Perhaps the best sequel ever made aside from Empire Strikes Back. For me, two moments sum up the storytelling power of this movie: when the characters (I can’t just call them toys!) are in the incinerator and when Andy leaves for college. Pure gold that keeps getting better the older I get.

2. The Incredibles
I first saw The Incredibles when I was a teenager. The story captured my attention, and was one of the first films I recall being aware of the second-level, more-for-adults humor that Pixar does such a fine job of weaving into their movies. Plus, super-extra-mega-bonus points for having the best scene of any Pixar movie.

1. Toy Story
The one that started it all, both for Pixar and for millions of moviegoers around the world. Toy Story was the first movie that I remember seeing in theaters, which helped make it the first movie that was “mine” rather than something my parents put on for me. Buzz and Woody, the lessons of friendship, the captivating animation style (that still looks solid almost three decades later)—Toy Story has it all

What do you think? What am I too high on? What am I too low on? Let me know in the comments!



Why is this happening to me? Why do I feel this way? Why the anxiety? Why the pain? Why the stress? Why the sleeplessness that makes everything worse? Did I do something wrong? Am I being punished? Am I not cut out for this work?

Why is this happening to me?

I don’t know. Sure, I could talk about the problem of evil and try to explain why living in a fallen world as a fallen human being means that sometimes, I’m going to suffer the consequences of sinful brokenness, including with my health and sanity. But down here in the trenches, that doesn’t help very much. I’m not asking things like this happen. I’m asking why this is happening to me.

I know others have it worse. And in my more lucid moments, that brings some comfort. But not tonight. Not as a look at the clock and see that I haven’t been able to really sleep for nearly four hours and that in another four hours, I’m supposed to be waking up to go preach in the morning. Others may have it worse, but this is my particular burden to bear and I don’t like it.

It’s wearing me down. First the back problems. Then the heart problems. Then the panic attacks. And now whatever this is, whether a different manifestation of anxiety or stress or some yet discovered problem. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted. I’m tired of being exhausted. I’m weary and heavy laden, and I just want to rest.
I suppose this is part of the journey. I suppose that this is my small, Jacob-sized cross to bear right now. Taking that perspective helps sometimes. This too shall pass and when it does, I pray I will be more like my Lord. He too had sleepless nights too, you know.

I wonder if Jesus had anxiety and stress that kept him for resting. I suppose that Hebrews statement about Him being like us suggests that in some sense (Hebrews 4.15). The Gospels references to Jesus spending nights in prayer also seem like possible inferences as well (e.g., Luke 6.12). Those statements at least raise the possibility.

But it’s the Garden of Gethsemane that’s on my weary mind right now. Good Friday must have been the hardest day for anyone in the history of humanity—willingly taking on the universe’s sin and shame while restraining your phenomenal cosmic power. And yet, what does Scripture say? That Jesus didn’t sleep the night before (Matthew 26.36-46).

Here I am, stress upon stress, worried that I won’t be able to do my job tomorrow (well, later this morning) because I’m not well rested and won’t have enough sleep. And my King, the one I’m following and trying to be like, He took on all of my anxiety and stress and brokenness (to say nothing of everyone else’s) with no rest the night before.

If nothing else, this reminds me of a simple, yet crucial fact that I always seem to need reminding of when my life is not perfect: Jesus suffers with me. I’m not alone in this. My Lord walks this road with me. He might not always take my problems away. He might not always say yes to my prayers. But He’s here. And He will give me the grace to make it through and point others not towards myself, but to Him.

Maybe I do know why this is happening to me after all.

Composed around 2am on Sunday, May 23

Four Reasons to Learn about Other Worldviews

I’m a nerd. Accordingly, I love learning about all kinds of things, most often, things that require me to learn a lot of fascinating information. One such realm of nerd-dom is world religions and worldviews. Everyone has a specific way of viewing the world: that’s a worldview. And some of the most prevalent worldview systems are the world’s major religions.

But I’m also a Christian (a Christian pastor, to boot). And sometimes, I’ll have a conversation with someone who isn’t quite sold on the importance of learning about nerdy things like non-Christian worldviews. “What’s the point?” “Seems dangerous.” “Why would I waste my time with that.” These are all responses I’ve heard when I suggest learning more about how non-Christians understand and approach the world.

But there are many good reasons for learning about non-Christian worldviews. Below are four of my favorite reasons: wisdom and witness, defense and discernment.

First, learning about non-Christian worldviews increases wisdom. Not only does it further your understanding of the world but learning what other people believe inevitably helps you better understand what you believe too. To quote A.G. Sertillanges, “To understand a single thing thoroughly, we should understand all things.” Of course, there’s a practical side to this wisdom too: you will be less likely to be confused or mislead by an idea or practice that sounds wise, but really is not. And this, in the words of the Apostle Paul, is a wise decision: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Second, learning about non-Christian worldviews is a necessary part of a Christian witness. In practice, worldviews function like languages: we make meaning through them and we communicate meaning with them. People with different worldviews, then, are basically speaking a different language. And we cannot effectively share the good news of Jesus with someone unless we speak their language. Understanding other worldviews thus allows us to translate the Gospel into other languages and be effective witnesses for Jesus. Only then can we fulfill our Great Commission mandate: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Third, learning about non-Christian worldviews allows for a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. Scripture and reality both make clear the importance of explaining and defending the truth espoused by faith in the Risen Son of God. Whether in the form of defending against attacks from other worldviews or simply helping to explain the substance of faith or answering questions about why we believe what we believe, this is the task of informed apologetics. Peter calls us to undertake this task in the following way: Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:14b-16)

Finally, learning about non-Christian worldviews furthers our spiritual discernment. If we believe that Christianity is more truthful or better suited for life or explains reality more fully, then we need to know how it compares to other ways of framing reality. As Robert Bellah points out, “One can make judgments of better and worse with respect to any religion, but they are more likely to be on point if one has seriously tried to understand them in their own terms.” How do we know? This is the path of discernment, which Paul also talks about: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

For these reasons, it’s appropriate (and necessary) to learn about non-Christian worldviews.

On Approaching Culture

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. – Jesus in the Gospel of John 17.15-18 (ESV)

With these words from the Upper Room Discourse of John’s Gospel, Jesus (probably intentionally) set the stage for how His followers should interact with the world. Often characterized as a call for Christians to “be in the world, but not of the world,” these words (along with various New Testament statements by Paul and James) have been used as the basis for Christian cultural engagement.  That is to say, Scripture sets the parameters for how Christians should live in, participate in, and relate to the world in which we live.

Unsurprisingly, exactly what this engagement looks like has varied even among faithful followers of Jesus. In fact, over the years, various Christians have crafted and lived different interpretations of what Scripture communicates about the appropriate relationship with the world. Today, there are five basic approaches that Christians take:

Five Approaches to Culture

First is what we might call the Antagonistic Approach. In this view, the expectation is that followers of Jesus should generally oppose the world and its culture, norms, and practices. Think of the Amish or ultra-conservative Christians who eschew many modern practices and technology. For the sake of comparing all five views, I want to use the Harry Potter books. If for no other reason that the clarity of the example, since their release, Christians have had very clear reactions to these books (and the movies). So they make a solid test cast. For the antagonistic approach, since the Harry Potter books are not explicitly Christian, they are something in culture that should be personally avoided and perhaps even widely opposed.

A second option is the Accommodating Approach, where the expectation is that followers of Jesus should accept and welcome the world and its culture, norms, and practices. This is a more prevalent and often “Christian-lite” approach, although ancient Christians such as John Chrysostom reveal that there is nothing particularly new about this approach. The perspective on the Harry Potter books here is that they’re all good, something to be enjoyed and accepted and adopted without any thought to the contrary.

A third option is the Countercultural Approach, where followers of Jesus should forge alternative, Christ-centered options for cultural expression and practice. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is largely the approach taken by Christian bookstores and the Contemporary Christian Music movement. Here, rather than reading the Harry Potter books, you should instead read some Christian fantasy, perhaps The Lord of the Rings (for the fifteenth time) or the Chronicles of Narnia or something similar.

The fourth option is the Two Worlds Approach. Here, followers of Jesus live between two worlds (sometimes called Two Kingdoms), where sometimes we prioritize the culture of Christ and other times we prioritize the culture of this world. This is the historic view of the Reformation, as this approach was fostered by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and their theological descendants. To continue our example, the first question for this view would be which world do the Harry Potter books belong to? If you’re going to use them for mere entertainment, they’re probably safe, since they belong to that world. But if the books are going to form your worldview, they have overstepped the boundaries of their world and should thus be returned to their proper place.

And finally, there is the Redemptive Approach. In this view, followers of Jesus should seek to redeem the world and reorient its culture, norms, and practices toward Christ and His Kingdom. Not everything is redeemable, of course. But many things are. In this approach, Harry Potter gets recast in various ways. Perhaps the books get celebrated for encouraging literacy or maybe parts of the story are mined for lessons about the battle between good and evil. In this view, culture is engaged for the purpose of finding and drawing out what is true and good and beautiful.

Which Approach?

Now, there are faithful Christians who attempt each of these approaches. And in my experience, there’s typically some overlap in approaches by individuals, families, and communities. (Here I should also not that the accommodating approach seems likely to be the kind of thinking that Jesus and James push back against in Scripture, so it’s probably best to not default to that approach.)

But personally, I lean toward attempting a redemptive approach to our world. A redemptive view takes seriously the reality that culture tends toward sinful brokenness and thus we should not be easy friends with the world. But it also focuses on the fact that our world consists of people made in the image of God who need redemption and whose cultural output is often worthy of redemption too. A redemptive approach understands that not everything is beneficial for the follower of Jesus, but that our world must be engaged and redeemed, nonetheless. This is why, for example, the church as pastor at often uses video clips to open messages. It’s why we spoof culture to make points. It’s why we have message series that use pop songs from the 90s as ways to think about the book of James.

There is much about culture that is not great and should be cautiously engaged by Christians, yes. But there’s also a lot that can be redeemed for the Kingdom of God, not ignored or feared or cast aside.

What about you: what are your thoughts on approaching culture? What boundaries or indicators to do you use?