Monday, January 20, 2014

Christians According to Culture

Christians. Saved people.

You may be one of those who I specifically target in this BlogSpot, though anyone is welcome here. If you are, you may have been baptized as an infant. You may have been baptized as an adult. You may have been confirmed through a local congregation. You may have gone forward at a local service or ministry event. You may have raised your hand there. You may have said the sinner's prayer. You may be a Sunday School teacher. You may run a music ministry. You may sing in the choir. You may be a Christian singer. You may be a Christian writer. You may even be a Pastor.

This may be news to you. It may not. But Jesus and Scripture do not define "getting saved" and being Christians the way the world defines it or even the way many of us in Christendom define it!

Christians According to Culture

In most of North American and European culture, the world of non-Christians (culture) often defines Christians as good, moral people who "live good lives," attend worship services, and, yes, are holier-than-thou and more judgmental than the average person. Surprise? Culture defines Christianity as "another religion" where people are "living good lives" to "earn Heaven." Newsflash for us in Christendom (organized local Christian churches): Though most of us know that we "cannot earn grace" and that Jesus is the only Way to His Father we also get it wrong. Why Are We Christians Confused About Being Christians?

In most of the developed culture, culture has infiltrated almost all of Christendom. Result? We have let cultural values of materialism, moral expedience, humanism, pop psychology, and the pleasure principle influence us. We know that Jesus calls us to live for Him and to embrace lives of selflessness, self-sacrificial love, uncompromising righteousness, devotion to His truth, and holiness. But the influence of mass media has influenced many of us to water down the Gospel and the message so that we act like Christianity is not anything more than an insurance policy from going to hell when we die, or getting forgiven for our sins and having a private relationship with God. Christianity IS these things! But it is more, much more.

Christians According to Christ

We need to search the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament to see what being a Christian actually involves. If we search it with open minds, we read very little about "getting saved," "resting on" or intellectually assenting to" the finished work of Christ. Though we read about New Testament infant dedications to God, we read nowhere about infant baptisms. We read about a tax collector's prayer for forgiveness, but nowhere do we read about a scripted "sinner's prayer." We read nowhere about hand-raising or walking forward in altar calls. We do read about making heart and life commitments to repent of sin, deny ourselves, and following Christ in a life-pursuit of holiness. The Scriptures do not pander to our desire for formulas or rules for "how to get saved." We can't predict how, when and where God works in people to bring them to Christian faith. We need to soberly take to heart Jesus" warning that the way to Him is narrow and few find it, while the route to hell is "broad" and multitudes walk that easy road. We also need to trust His work in people, as no one can come to Him except through "the drawing power" of His Father.

Where Does This Leave us?

In short, this should change the idea of "getting saved," that so many of us in Christendom have. We must know that there are two church bodies. There are all of those who belong to organized local Christian churches, who may or may not be followers of Christ. They are the visible church. Then there is the invisible, organic Church which Jesus said He is pledged to build and which the gates of hell would not prevail against. Those in this Church may or yes, increasingly may not (especially in the developing world) belong to organized local Christian churches. This means we can't judge the state of anyone's heart and spiritual condition (though we can make guesses based on outward "fruit"). This means we need to evaluate ourselves and our Christian commitment. It means that in spreading His message to others, we need to focus on prayer, trusting Him, and not on numbers or results.

Are you a cultural Christian or a Christ-follower?

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