Sunday, October 2, 2011

Are You A CROSS cultural Christian?

American College Heritage Dictionary defines culture as follows:

The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thoughts. These products considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population.

A part of almost any culture you can think of is religion. It's no different here in America, where Christianity has been a significant contributor to the culture. In fact, Christianity itself has become so cultured and sophisticated and embellished that our pastors are now quite intellectual and open minded; the apparent need for modern apparatuses such as philosophy, psychology, sociology have been amply added to the church for the betterment of all concerned.

Our pews are plush, our crosses are polished, our congregations are dressed in their finest, perfumed and prim. Some of us are dressed like we are going 'clubbing' though, rather than to church!

Our messages are very 'today', concise and centered around how we can be made better: better parents, better children; better employees and employers; better neighbors, better friends, etc. They are peppered with anecdotal, positive words that tickle us and give us warm, cozy religious feelings. We learn how to have purpose, how to have our best life now, even how to see those in other religions as having their own corner on truth and spirituality.

Sometimes we even have joint services with them, or have their leaders speak from our pulpits and ours teaching in their own places of worship.

We have even come to see how there could very well be other legitimate paths to God and salvation!

Shame on us!

The church founded upon Jesus Christ, in that first and second century met in catacombs or desolate, dark buildings on the outskirts of villages, fully aware that if they were caught, it would cost them their lives. To be a Christian then meant suffering, blood and death in the physical world ...
Today's Christianity isn't about what it "will cost me" but "what can I get out of this?" Churches today are not about perilous meeting places, but plump and comfortable furnishings.

The early church confronted a fallen world with the truth, not fearing whether or not their words might offend those who would sneer at the idea that they were sinners. Today we are afraid to offend those in our own pews with the notion of our own sinfulness, of the need for repentance and living holy lives before God.
The early church was concerned about offending a Holy God; today we are concerned about offending the congregation that carries tithes into the collection plates.

Rather than polished crosses that Christians adorn on their sanctuary walls and altars or wear on necklaces or rings, Christians then wore crosses on their whip-torn backs - and those weren't smooth and polished but rough-hewn, splintered and stained with blood from frequent use. They willingly suffered and died on those crosses.

We prefer to keep our crosses clean though, and feel uncomfortable talking about Jesus' blood that He shed on His cross - there are even some pastors that deny the cross and the blood shed there, claiming that this is a 'slaughter house religion of barbarism' about a "vengeful God Who has a blood lust (and no, I'm not making this up!)."

Whereas today, churches and their pastors think nothing of mixing the Gospel with the more enlightened knowledge of modern science, philosophy and liberal-minded reception of religious ecumenism, the early church thundered with bold declaration, denouncing the prodigious lies and deceptions of the false religious systems and philosophies that surrounded them.

Yes, we are far more cultured today in the church, more refined and conciliatory towards a society that doesn't like the cross, doesn't like the idea of self-denial, doesn't like the distinction between truth and lies, of being right or wrong; doesn't like this 'Jesus' that demands whole-hearted repentance and commitment to Him as LORD and Savior . . . so we make things more 'friendly' for these 'seekers' and hide these offensive truths away from view.

We could very well say that the culture of the world has become our own!
And the culture we experience in today's churches are very much about human thinking and human works (sit and watch some videos by today's popular emergent pastors and tell me if they aren't espousing their own thinking and rallying people to engage in humanly-inspired works of the green or social [justice] gospel kind!), rather than the Divine thinking of the Word, and Divine work as already accomplished at the Cross of Jesus Christ.

This is not however, the culture of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God! No, not in the least!

The culture that Jesus brought to His church was about spiritually transmitted (via the rebirth into Christ Jesus) behavior by the Holy Spirit - not a society. Behavior that looked to God as the highest priority; behavior that sought to please Him above self, behavior that led to dying and denying self, not greedily gathering up resources to better one self! Behavior that was consumed in love and obedience to God!

The art in the culture that Jesus brought to His church is of His artistry and the artwork He is engaged in is . . . you! Did you know that as a genuine child of God, you are a work of art in God's eyes? Beautiful and attractive in the finished product that He knows you will one day be in Him (EPH 2:10 "workmanship" in the Greek is poema, which is where we get the word 'poem' from)?

The beliefs of Jesus' culture were all about the Word of God; He didn't use any philosophy or psychology, or even 'theology' in His ministry - Just the Word of God. He didn't take courses in 'seeker friendly' methods of growing congregations fast and bring popular and positive messages that made His hearers feel good about themselves. He never voiced His 'opinion' in ministry; everything He ever said was Truth.

The institution that Jesus Christ established was a singular institution and it wasn't a cemetery - uh, excuse me, I meant seminary (well, same thing these days, for the most part!). What He established was the church and He endowed the church with such power from the Holy Spirit that not even the gates of hell would be able to withstand our charge.

Oh, but that's right! Our modern churches have too much sense than to believe in a literal hell. How unsophisticated and barbaric that would be!

As Sure As Hell
It was the body of Christ that ministered the Word of God, and prayer, and the LORD's supper and fellowship - and that was enough (ACTS 2:42,47)!

There were no church programs, no youth groups, no Sunday Schools, no A/C, no Power Point presentations, no church membership cards, no 20 member praise bands, no Gramma Biker Bible Study groups or other specialized groups that tailored to the tastes of seekers who were hungry for more than just the Word of God. How uncouth and unprofessional of that ignorant early church!

All they had was the Word of God and the Holy Spirit - that poor, deprived pitiful band of believers . . . yet they turned the world upside down, and didn't employ a single modern-day method to do it with!

What do you think? Do we need to return to the culture that the LORD Jesus Christ intended for His church? What was that culture all about?

The Cross.

Are you a Cross-cultural Christian?
And what is that, you might ask?
Well, we covered some of it already, didn't we?

The Cross of Jesus Christ and what this represents is the pivotal point in the life of every soul that comes to Christ for salvation. It is the point where we die to our old life and start anew by the Spirit of God, and find that we belong to God Who bought us with His own blood (GAL 2:20; ROM 8:2, 11; ACTS 20:28; 1 COR 6:19-20)!


JOHN 3:16-17
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved
.

The KING of Heaven, the HOLY GOD Incarnate didn't come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (MARK 10:45) on that Cross and by shedding His righteous blood, bought and brought salvation to us all.

The Highest and Holiest KING anywhere in or out of the universe took upon Himself the form of a servant, and didn't merely bear our sins, but became sin for us Who knew no sin, that the righteousness of God would be ours! (PHIL 2: 7-8; 2 COR 5:21). He was obedient to the end of His Holy life and died for our sins.

This is the sort of "cross culture" He wants for and from His church, and the behavior, belief, institution and product that the LORD desires in and from us! A culture of love: love for our Father GOD, our fellow saints and the fallen sinners but with no love whatever for this rebel planet and the governing forces of evil that enslaves it.

Where we will no longer be concerned about self, but DELIVERED from self and all its bondage's and freely, willingly, cheerfully and lovingly devout ourselves in service to the LORD - even if it kills us! And if the cross has its way with us, it will!!

ROM 6:6-7, 11-13
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord
.


Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God
.


Other passages (this list is not comprehensive, but a sampling) that describe the kind of culture that the LORD desires for us, His church that has encountered the cross as sinners, endured it as those who have died, and walked from the cross as those risen from the dead to new life in Christ, not self:

MATT 5
ROMANS 8
1 CORINTHIANS 13
GALATIANS 5
EPHESIANS 5



In the following video presentations by Gayle Erwin* and his teaching of The JESUS Style, we can see all the more clearly the culture of the Cross and LIFE in JESUS!

*Take note that this author doesn't necessarily agree with some of the statements and endorsements made by Mr. Erwin elsewhere; that being said, I can whole heartedly endorse these and other videos by him, as well as his books, and encourage everyone to watch and learn of JESUS, He Who is meek and lowly and from Whom we will find rest unto our souls!

The Nature of Jesus - Part 1 of 4
The Nature of Jesus - Part 4 of 4
If you would be interested in viewing these presentations in their completion, you can order the materials from Gayle Erwin's ministry:

http://servant.org/

or watch them online here:
Gayle Erwin's Teachings

Let's study closely the life that the LORD lived as our example and by His Spirit that dwells within us, walk in this way, and be truly CROSS Cultural Christians!

2 comments:

Tony Kiar said...

How quickly we forget God's provisioning when we travel in mixed company. People who don't really believe God's word yet have a shallow fellowship with His body - the church, can often set the entire congregation 'wailing'. It is then when the grass gets greener on the other side of the fence and past pleasures are so fondly remembered. Among recovering addicts this is called 'euphoric recall' and it is deadly. Jesus plainly told the devil that; "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)
http://walkingwithtony.blogspot.ca/2012/03/when-manna-becomes-tiresome.html

Tony Kiar said...

How far will we go in accepting the immoral muck of this dark world into our lives. When we dream, do we dream of winning the lottery or of winning His favour? When others poke fun of the Bible and denigrate believers do we laugh? Do we silently stand by and allow false statements to go unchecked? Sometimes the most powerful way we can serve the LORD is to stand up and be counted among those who follow His Son! Jesus said; "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)

http://walkingwithtony.blogspot.ca/2013/04/draw-line.html