Saturday, August 29, 2009

cultural christian.

Father God, I am clay in your hands,
Help me to stay that way through all life's demands,
'Cause they chip and they nag and they pull at me,
And every little thing I make up my mind to be,
Like I'm gonna be a daddy whose in the mix,
And I'm gonna be a husband who stays legit,
And I pray that I'm an artist who rises above,
The road that is wide and filled with self love,
Everything that I see draws me,
Though it's only in You that I can truly see that its a feast for the eyes- a low blow to purpose.
And I'm a little kid at a three ring circus.

I don't want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don't wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.

-Tobymac "Lose my Soul"

It's not all about you. No really, it's not all about me either. This whole thing we like to call "life" is about God. Really. I'm for serious, for real. But you see, we've been taught (by a variety of sources) that everything is all about ourselves. I mean, as preschoolers we sing songs like "Jesus loves Me". Emphasis on the me. I know, we need to stress to people how Jesus loves them so they can want to know Jesus too. But, it's like, over and over again...Jesus loves me....God loves friends love parents love me...sometimes we forget that we have to love them back. It's not all about me. We turn our focus during worship to be about us. We read passages of scripture we like and just ignore the rest. Our church, our prayer lives, and our relationships suffer when we move the focus from God to us. We've become just like the self-seeking nonbelievers and we blend in. But, we're called to a higher purpose. We're called not to blend in with the nonbelievers or the Christians that blend in. As Americans, we have embraced this concept called "cultural Christianity" by some. It's so easy to be a Christian, we have nothing to lose. But, if we can lose this idea that this "Christianity thing" revolves around ourselves...we can see some things happen that we can't even imagine.

Our first problem is that we are more interested in our Christian cliques than God's glory. People united for a common goal can do amazing things, but people united for God's glory will do miracles. Think about this for a minute, what if we quit wasting time bickering with all of the other churches/ministries in the area about who was going to "win over" which people and we united together to try and win people to the cause of Christ. What if we quit fighting over the "right" way to baptize someone?  What if instead of claiming a denomination, we claimed Christ? I think this whole denomination thing is pretty stupid, honestly. I understand, we have differing beliefs, but would God want us to be split like this? Imagine the impact we could have in our communities if we would stop arguing about the little stuff and just love everyone. Imagine the impact we could make if we would stop competing over "who had the biggest youth group" or "who had the coolest sound system". What if we all bonded together for God's glory? What if we stood up to make a difference and reach out in unity? I think that nonbelievers would be much more likely to embrace and accept the gospel if we weren't continually bickering about who was going to win them over and therefore showing hypocrisy in the process. Our churches should not be about the numbers. Honestly, I'd much rather be in a church with 5 other people that genuinly wanted to worship and know the Lord than 5 million that were just there because it was the "cool" place to be. I don't want to be at the "cool" church, I want to be at the "God" church.

Problem number two is that we tend to value the "pretty" people and the "flashy" gadgets. We view church as a form of entertainment, something to do to occupy time. So, just as the lastest blockbuster hit has all of the newest lighting and sound techniques and the best actors, we want our churches to have the same. Too often, we "worship" our leaders more than the Lord. We want to be part of the latest and trendiest ministry. We want to hear from the best pastor. There are some great speakers out there, don't get me wrong, they are working for the Lord. But, sometimes we as people, put such an emphaisis on the fact we just heard the latest and greatest pastor/speaker that we don't even hear the message. For example, Francis Chan is a great speaker. Amazing. He has some great insight and is truly inspired by the Lord. But, me wanting to drive to his church to hear him speak could be wrong. If I was just going to hear him speak. Now, if I wanted to go hear God speak through him...I've got the right motives. We need to remeber the master over the pastor. 1 Corinthians 1:17 says, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News- and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power." What Paul is saying is that God didn't send him to be the best speaker. Because God doesn't just want people at church to hear a cool speaker, beacause this brings problems. The Cross loses its value, its worth. Also, we don't just want to be the prettiest church on the block. It's cool to have pretty people that want to be there. It's cool to have pretty stuff that decorate the building. But, it's not cool to just go somewhere because it's cool to be there. We should learn to value the gifts of all people, even the not so cool ones, and learn to value the Word over oratory skills. Yeah, I like a pastor that can preach an entertaining, funny message that captures my attention. But, I would much prefer a pastor inspired by the Word of God that wasn't so entertaining any day. Because, you know what? It's not all about me. It's about God. Paul says in  1 Corinthians 3:4, "When one says 'I am a follower of Paul', and another says 'I am a follower of Apollos' aren't you just acting like the people of this world?" People of this world follow their leaders. People of God follow God. Don't follow your pastor, don't follow your church. Don't follow your denomination, please. Follow God. Keep your eyes fixed on him. In verse 7 Paul says, " It's not important who does the planting or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow."

Problem number three is that our church has a lot of gifted people that are "baby" Christians. We hear so often the phrase "Do not judge, lest you be judged." As Christians, we think it is our duty to judge everyone, but the judgement really lies in God's hands. Yes, if you are in an accountability relationship, it would be appropriate to tell them where they are straying off the straight and narrow. No, it is not appropriate to stand on street corners judging those that walk by. Nonbelievers are calling the church hypocritical because they are judging people, and yet they have problems themselves. We need to work on ourselves before we work on others. After you are living the pure and sinless life...we can talk again, okay? We are killing the cause of Christ by doing this. We tend to have mixed motivations, so as you work for the Lord, you should watch your motivations. If you are doing something  for God's glory, you should make sure that it's God you're trying to glorify, not yourself. So often, we take our salvation for granted. Take your calling from the Lord seriously. It's not just your reputation at's the Lord's. I think Tobymac sums this whole cultural Christianity thing up good in his song 'Lose my Soul' when he says, "Lord forgive us when we get consumed by the things of this world that fight for our love and our passion. As our eyes are open wide and on you grant us the privilege of your world view. And may your kingdom be what wakes us up and lays us down."

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