Wednesday, December 4, 2013

True Christianity vs. the Modern Culture

“The yearning to know what cannot be known, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to touch and taste the unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and landlocked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to its source.”
― A.W. Tozer

Imagine, if you would, a believer with a day job armed to the teeth with biblical truth, Christ-like compassion, and an intense desire to fulfill the great commission.  Now imagine 1 million of them in the United States.  The population of the United States is 313.9 million people.  That would be about 1 power-house Christian to every 314 citizens.  I could learn to love that kind of dynamic because 1 true believer to every 314 average people is a huge amount.  Imagine how many people you personally see and know on a day to day basis?  I know over the span of just a week I directly interact with at least 100 different people for brief intervals.

A true believer like me, and I hope also like you... imagine that, 1 million directly and indirectly impacting the other 314 in their path with social media posts, a positive attitude, a nice tone in the voice, a bumper sticker as you drive?  A t-shirt with a powerful statement on it?  Someone who sees somebody having a tough day and offers them an ear?  And I don't mean being the nerdy and overly invasive weirdo Christian who always embarrasses his kids.  No, but I do mean engaging the culture actively. And there are so Christians who do engage the culture.  I watched a wonderful presentation yesterday by Lecrae at the Mark Driscoll Resurgence conference on engaging culture, here it is if you'd like to view it:

Now let's stop and think about this.  The population of the United States is 313.9 million people.  According a Gallup poll done in 2012, 77% of Americans identify themselves as Christian.  I think cutting that number in half would be generous to consider those who actually are members of the body of Christ.  So let's say about 120-140 million Americans are actually part of the body of true believers.  There aren't 1 million in that bunch that are sharing the gospel with a loving heart?  If they are, I must just never meet them.  Because I'm not seeing it.

Honestly I can't really even offer a vague guess as to how viable those numbers are.  Some things only God knows.  The point is we're coming up short because despite so many claiming Christianity, it keeps getting progressively worse out there.

Christians are in retreat from the culture.  Science claims to have killed God and as long as evolution is taught as fact in the public schools kids are going to come out arguing with us over if God exists or not.  The more people my age I meet, the more afraid I am.  I'm sorry to put it this way, but I could see many cheering the idea of unity as Christians are sent to camps.  Just plain stupid.

And stupid is tough, but not as tough as intellectually arrogant.  Christian leaders back pedal when they're faced with scientific/intellectual/logical arguments, why?  In my experience and when seeing great men like Ravi Zacharias defending the faith, Christianity seems more than defensible.  It seems easily defensible.  There is just a lot of lie and garbage out there.

The culture is suffocating, utterly suffocating.  It's a cloud of stink and all manner of evil desires are fired at my viewing and hearing day by day.  I'm offered all measures of depravity.  The public quietly sleeps.  Christians look too much like the culture and not enough like a true counter-culture of love.  Given a life generally lived in the system, the television stations, the popular music, public school classes, modern media, mainstream news, what is the average individual brought up in that going to believe about half way through?

Let's see... Christians are dumb and backwards.  Christian leaders are child molesters.  Christians are intolerant.  Science has explained away God entirely.  Money, sex, power, drugs, alcohol, and stuff is going to make me happy.  I can act however I want because everything is relative.

It's not pretty!

By the numbers on the gallup polls, and by legitimate surveys done, there are a lot of people out there claiming to be Christian.  Our voice is a whisper right now against the American culture just outlined.  It's a whisper, an unarmed whisper and let's be frank most Christians make it look like no fun anyway.

I would have.. not a whisper from the American Christian body, but a shout, and it won't be as loud as the American culture but it will be a shout that can be heard by most, and is an offer that is in front of most for the taking.  I don't think that's too much to ask.

There are higher principles that Christians ought to be living by.  There are higher principles we're called to live by.  Instead, we having judgmental hypocrites playing holy and money-hungry mega churches making a whole big mess out of things. 

We can do better.  We can do much better.  We can engage the culture without becoming the culture.  We can offer an island and a sanctuary to people from the depravity.  But we've got to be louder about our faith, not bizarre, not pointing fingers, but louder about the solution, which is the spiritual transformation done in the heart of the believer by Christ.

Are you on fire for Christ?

If not, don't get upset, don't start trying to "figure it out" but instead, get on your knees and ask God to go about building you up in the kind of passion that Jesus Christ has.  This isn't about self righteousness, or works-faith.  But it's about concern.  It's about concern for what I see on my Facebook news feed.  It's concern about how brainwashed I see people my age are.  It's from concern when I realize that 90% of people my age have no cause, no mission, nothing they believe in, and the only identifying marks they carry are sports team memorabilia and their favorite flavor of beer.  Or on the intellectual side, their favorite deranged cartoons, half baked eastern philosophy, and indie rock bands. 

I can't stand it.  I really can't.  How can the culture, the media, the schools be that brainwashing?  Is it now possible to plan consumers from birth with a certain regimen of television, public school, advertisements, and alcohol consumption?  That's terrifying to me.  It's very scary.  And I get very upset about it.  I get on my knees and freak out at God about it.

How could you allow this Lord?!  Is it even their choice anymore to worship evil?  How can they be so blind?  And Father what can I possibly do against that?  DO SOMETHING YOU WHITE BEARDED ANTEDILUVIAN NEUTRALIST ANACHRONISM! .. and then I apologize, and finish praying.

It's a daunting task.  But from the very beginning of Christianity, 100 AD, it was a daunting task.  A hostile Roman empire persecuted and killed the first Christians.  There were maybe a couple thousand, maybe 10,000.  I'm sure it seemed impossible to them.  Fast forward 1,913 years and there are 2 billion Christians on the Earth.  I guess it wasn't so impossible with God and the truth on their side?

Can we get passionate about this God thing?  Can we get excited about this incredible truth?

One of the reasons I love Francis Chan is because he's willing to break traditions to try to get to the heart of the message.  If once a week church isn't enough, why not try something else:

We can learn a lot from the way Jesus Christ lived.  We can learn a lot from how he died too.  We've received the gift of salvation from him.  Now we've gotta let the Holy Spirit change us.  Then we'll show what Christianity looks like in a dark world.

It's hard.  But we can work with the Holy Spirit in this process.  About two years ago I quit watching television all together.  I'm so very glad I did.  I don't need all that indoctrination and subliminal messaging.  I quit drugs and alcohol with God's help a bit over a year ago.  I prayed and prayed, and God answers those prayers.  With God's help I quit cigarettes not too long ago.  Are there things in your life you'd love to see gone?  Don't take those things on alone my friend.  Don't try to white-knuckle it.  Instead pray to God, ask him to help you leave those things behind, and work with him on the process. One by one, they'll be removed.

If we can become the right kind of people, with the right methods and the kind of love Christ had, then the culture will have to contend with a unified force of light.  I imagine they won't like that.  I mean how much is a true Christian going to buy, buy, buy, and engage in all manner of high priced depravity?  Not much really.  The United States commercial culture loves a consumer.  A thinker?  A Christian?  Well, they'll shun us then.  Fine, because we aren't what they say we are.  We aren't animals.  We aren't products of our dna mindlessly roaming from filth to filth...  We aren't worthless.  We don't need stuff to be happy. 

We're Children of God.  We're a Holy Priesthood.  Somewhere along the line we forgot that.  It's time to remember.  It's time to take up pure snow white clothing given by Jesus Christ.  It's time to take up the armor of God and get on a mission for Christ in the world.  It's time to seek honor.  It's time to seek justice.  It's time to seek immortality.  

This adventure, this chivalrous mission is in need of righteous warriors of truth, righteous through their faith in Jesus Christ, ever-trusting in their heavenly Father, and consistently excited about this mission.  This is a war.  This is a spiritual war, an unseen war of truth against lies.  There are great battles to fight ahead of us.  What songs will be sung in heaven of the victories of God's people during the fall?  What honor will they speak of when your name comes up, and you are called to account?  Will the psalms of the Christians who stood for honor during the fall of man, sung by the angels in the next life include reference to your exploits?

You are not a filthy "bro" bar hopping for women to slime your way inside of!  You are not some modern consumer scrounging for whatever he can get.  You are not a cashier, a sports fan, a miller guy, a worker or an employee.  You are not a party girl drinking all the time looking for the perfect feeling!  You are not a shopper, a barbie, a slut, or a house wife.  You are not a modern ape living for pleasure.  You belong to a holy and loving God.  I'm telling you the truth.  I'm not lying.  And I can't imagine why I would.

Be more than the depravity and the momentary pleasure seeker.  Don't chase what will crumble in your hands!  Live for the eternity ahead.  I know inside you is the desire to be honorable.  To do good and stand against evil.  Take this journey.

It's a journey I'm taking, and I hope you'll take it with me.  You know how.  It starts with Jesus Christ, it continues with the Bible and prayer, and inside you, patiently and over time a spring will come forth from your soul, a spring that shoots up life giving water, sharing eternal life with others, bubbling up to that long awaited moment when you meet the Christ face to face.

May God bless you and keep you until that Glorious Day!

John 1:12 ESV 

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

Galatians 3:26 ESV 

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

1 Peter 2:10 ESV 

Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Romans 8:17-19 ESV 

And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 5:1-21 ESV 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ...

1 John 2:28-3:10 ESV 

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. ...

Romans 5:8 ESV 

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.