Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cultural Christianity, could you have it?

What does it really mean to "put God first in your life?" What does it mean when we say I'm a "follower of Jesus?" What is the reality of "loving God?" what does all this Christian Talk mean?

The Church has been influenced by both the secular culture and in my opinion even more insidiously by Christian culture.What do I mean by christian Culture? and why use the word insidious to describe christian culture, is christian culture really that bad?

First, let me say that when I use the term christian culture I'm not referring to our rich Christian traditions. I'm not disparaging the great confessions of the faith, the creeds, or all of the rich history of the orthodox Christian church, but what I mean to zero in on is the American version of Christianity that has griped the church in the United States.

Let's us look at Cultural Christianity form Paul's letter to Timothy in 2 Tim 3:5. I'll provide a few different versions so you can get the idea for the different words used to describe cultural Christianity:

 having a form of godliness...(NIV)
 They will act religious...(NLT)
 having the appearance of godliness...(ESV)
 Who have a form of God-worship...(Aramiac Bible in Plain English)
 They will appear to have a godly life...(God's Word Translation)

We get an even clearer picture of cultural Christianity form the denunciations of Jesus against the religious leaders of His day; in  Matthew 23: 25-28 the Pharisee's external religiosity is severely condemned and rebuked by Jesus.

The Pharisee's religion merely consisted of obeying and conforming to a religious system, a set of rules and ceremonies to be observed and followed. Now, I'm sure to those on the outside these Pharisee's seemed to be a holy and pious group of people---but it is to these religious people Jesus reserved his harshest criticisms.

The picture that I'm trying to create is that it is possible to have a form of religion on the outside, but not have a changed heart.

True conversion must take place on the inside first--- this is why Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again (John 3:3). Throughout both the Old and New Testaments we are told that we need a new heart, and that the Holy Spirit must make us alive to God through true spiritual conversion (cf Titus 3:5).

This change on the inside comes when God makes us alive by His grace, through faith in the sacrifice of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (cf Ephesians 2:8-9).

Warning: See Matthew 7:23, "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' We need to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). We need to examine our lives to make sure that we are not merely religious; having an appearance of Godliness, but we need to know that we have been changed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out.


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