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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « On Spiritual Warfare Part 1 of 2 | Follow Your (Deceitful) Heart »
    Friday
    Sep282012

    Christian Culture is Weird: A Bunch of What-If's

    I have been a Christian long enough to finally recognize the so-called “Christian culture”, and I’m rebelling. I’ve grown up and I don’t understand it anymore. Because Christian culture is weird.

     

    Phrases are thrown around that no one really knows what they mean or where they come from, because it makes Christians sound cool, super-spiritual (whatever that really means), and uber-Christian (holier-than-thou). The phraseology is a way to tell the “baby” Christians apart from those who are “more mature in Christ” (whatever that means).

     

    Even if the phrases come from Scripture, most people have no idea where or in what context. Anyway, we should be quoting the Bible instead of quipping poetic catch-phrases.

     

    It isn’t just what Christians say either, but the underlying idea that Christians have to create Christian substitutes so they won’t “be like the world” (Romans 12:2). So instead of Halloween they have “harvest parties” (‘cause it isn’t like those have pagan origins) which is simply a “nicer” version of Halloween. Besides, what better way to entice non-believers into church?

     

    There are Christian coffeehouses, Christian nightclubs, Christian sex toys, Christian bookstores, Christian gifts, 10,000 different versions of the Bible, Christian vitamins, Christian workout videos, Christian celebrities, Christian music and film stars, Christian self-help (huh?) and personal growth books. Don’t believe this list? Look ‘em up for yourself. There are myriad websites and catalogs out there that sincerely—not parody—sell this stuff.

     

    Christians and churches host and attend expensive conferences on how to be a better Christian, and have public and church worship services that appear like secular concerts, only they open with prayer. Christians copy secular marketing, advertising, fundraising, and public speaking techniques so that their point, I mean “God’s voice” will be heard.

     

    Songs are chosen and sung to go along with the pastor’s message, create emotional highs and lows, and extract certain responses from the audience. Those in charge of the service dictate how and when the audience, er…worshippers connect with God.  

     

    Disclaimer: Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with being a Christian business owner and selling (for example) Christian gifts or vitamins. My gripe is toward those companies who try to manipulate people, and those manipulated people who think they are more Christian because they shop there.

    There is nothing wrong with singing to God or playing an instrument. But there is something wrong when another person strives to make someone else feel a certain way by playing on their emotions.

     

    How much of what people do is really “for God”, and how much is really about themselves? Why do people suppose they can “do” anything for God Almighty? He has called Christians “to speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), not strive to build bridges or “be yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14) in various endeavors in the names of unity or peace,

    For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (same verse, and it goes on for a while. This is a big point in Scripture).

     

    He does not call Christians to compromise a little (which always turns into compromising a lot) so they can share the gospel. He does not call Christians to materialism, but neither does He call Christians to abject poverty.

     

    How many times do people try to do things for God that go against His Word? And then they rationalize their actions, find verses out of context that appear to back them up, meanwhile racing in a downward spiral away from Him. Then, when they sense they are farther away from God, they do even more things “for” Him or things that go against His Word in an attempt to reconnect.

     

    Why is it that God and His word, which is naturally simple and direct, is far too simplistic for so many people (which is arrogance to think we can improve on what God has given us) they insist on complicating it unbiblically with extra prayer “routines”, “spiritual disciplines”, Christian-anything-and-everything, and elevating authors, celebrities, leaders, musicians, and anyone else popular, to a special elitist status, when we’re all on the same level, and all fallible. Is it because when they inevitably fail, they provide a nice scapegoat?

     

    Christians read so many books, attend so many lectures, hear so many speakers, and buy so much stuff including devotionals and Bible studies, to learn about and remind them of what the Bible says. For all that, studies show Christians are almost as biblically-illiterate as secular culture (http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=1110&var3=main). Instead, just read the Bible often, teaching and learning from and with other Christians.

     

    Christians can be shallowly divided by denominations, yet strive to be unified on points that should be non-negotiable (ecumenism). How backwards and distracted! Christians can try so hard to be “relevant” to secular culture, they succeed in looking just like it, but are ironically never truly relevant to people.

     

    If only some Christians worried less about how the world views them and how to improve their image with the world, and more about how God actually views Christians and non-Christians. He’s not just waiting with baited breath for people to finally realize how much He adores us.

     

    If only some Christians stopped buying so much “Christian” stuff, stopped investing so much in church buildings and programs to make them more appealing to non-believers, and gave to other Christians in need. Christians are so good about being generous to the secular poor, but often think of the poor Christians they personally know, last. Even gangs, cults, and pagans take care of their own.

     

    What if some Christians stopped attending so many expensive conferences, seminars, and lectures and started getting to know their neighbors and coworkers?

     

    What if some Christians stopped trying to get people into the church building to hear the pastor’s fabulous message, get hooked into one of a hundred different programs—err “ministries”, get the kiddies roped in so the parents will continue to come and “get saved”, and instead took time to genuinely listen to others’ concerns, hurts, and joys, and prayed and gently spoke the truth of God’s word to them? 

     

    Note: whereas many others might say we need to show God’s love to others through action, I strongly believe that showing love without speaking truth is fruitless, and sometimes speaking truth is the only loving action needed.

     

    I have attended secular grief groups with more compassion and listening ability than Christian ones, when you can find them, that is.

     

    What if some Christians stopped focusing so much on serving the church building and service by being an usher, media team member, music team member, director, etc. and served the church body instead through jail visits, finances, personal visits, hospital visits, teaching, playing music at a hospice, etc.?

     

    We tend to leave the latter to one designated person, leader, or group/team/ministry in the church, when it is a burden all Christians are called to share. 

     

    What if some Christians stopped focusing on building bigger, better, or more ministries/programs for increasingly-specific groups, and simply met together as one big family so everyone can be a minister and be ministered to?

     

    What if instead of trying to pray harder, more effectively, more faithfully and more intensely (whatever those terms mean), Christians simply prayed what is on their hearts and minds? What if some Christians tried to actually have a relationship with God instead of trying to make Him do their will?

     

    What if some Christians tried reading the Bible to see what it says (and then doing that), rather than trying to make it say what they want it to say (and doing that)? What if instead of striving to be culturally relevant, Christians were relevant to individuals?

     

    What if instead of actively fighting against Satan through “spiritual warfare”, some Christians strove to act and live as though Satan were already defeated as far as they are concerned,

    Death has been swallowed up in victory.”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”(1 Corinthians 15:54-57. See also: Hebrews 2:14, 1 John 5:4)? 

     

    What if some Christians stopped trying to “fix” people, just preached truth, and let God do the fixing like only He knows how?

     

    All this “fluff and stuff” of a “Christian culture” only results in running ourselves ragged in circles instead of doing the real work of Christ. All this “stuff” is just that and looks ridiculous, weird, and sometimes downright scary to non-believers (and some believers).

     

    If the world would only poke fun at us for speaking truth, and not producing “testa-mints”. If only we were mocked for being a humble and praying people instead of for all the ways we try to manipulate others into becoming Christians or buying the latest “Christian” product (for their own good, of course).

     

    God has not called us to transform our culture. He has not called us to establish our own “Christian” culture. He has not called us to change the world. Christians cannot apply what the world says (you have to be popular, the brightest, the strongest, or the best to be successful) to a Christian life.

     

    God has called Christians to live simple, quiet lives, loving all other Christians and helping to provide for those Christians in trouble or need as we are able.

     and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thess. 4:11, Emphasis added)

     

    What churches should focus on is building a Christian community, not a Christian “culture”. 

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