Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

We have known churches where the members can scarcely sit down at the Lord’s Table without some disagreement. There are always people who are finding fault with the minister, and there are ministers finding fault with the people; there is among them “a spirit that lusteth to envy,” and “where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”… Alas! How continually do we hear accounts of disputings and variance in churches!” C.H. Spurgeon

problem goat

“A want of love to one another,” is Spurgeon’s descriptor. Hundreds of years ago the want of love was present, even in the early church the want of love was present, thus the plentiful Scripture passages regarding the need of love to one another.

Please don’t misunderstand, my intent isn’t to slander of the Bride of Christ. All too common is a slanderous spirit toward the church, where people are all too willing to join in and say the church is loveless. Spurgeon’s point isn’t that of a disgruntled church goer who is disenfranchised.  Those deprived and marginalized souls who accuse blame, and condemn the church for almost every slight, injustice, or social problem are those who view the church as a service provider and who are part of the problem.

Somehow the cutting edge of some modern religious movements has become the rejection of systematized and organized church. You aren’t cool and Jesusy if you don’t bemoan the errors of the church and meet in someone’s house. It is as if spirituality is measured by how much one can reject anything that is a tradition handed down.

What is replacing the old models? It has been replaced with either chaos, or modern consumer driven paradigms that provide the product of choice, at the moment, according to fickle consumptive desire. With this attitude the Bride of Christ is despised and not loved. This rejection is a multifaceted cacophony of opinion, where authenticity, genuineness, and spontaneity presume to fix all that ales the church.

The church always can mature, we always need to be reforming and cutting away the cultural blinders. Loving the church and love for our brothers is part and parcel of this demeanor. Jesus loved the church, he commanded that we love the church, and the manner of love for the church we possess is a marker of our faith in Christ. John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is not as though Christians need to love ecclesiastical structures, heritage, or traditions. What is being stated, is that the manner of love for one another determines the manner in which those items are handled.

The church is the vehicle of God’s own choosing for spreading the fame of His name among the nations. We gather to love one another, worship, and be sent out into the world as missionaries; to be salt and light to the world. Let us not give way to the cultural religious trend of rejecting the church. Let us not fall victims to the classic blunder of getting so deeply involved in church structure that we fail to actually love the church.  A want of love for one another undercuts God honoring actions of the church, but love for one another demonstrates the glory of the One we worship.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24–25

Can apples be called oranges? Seriously, can apples be called oranges, and still maintain all the traits of apples, while remaining respectable at the fruit market? Can reality be categorized along with perceived reality? Without mutual exclusivity? Is it possible to maintain and separate an ideal from what truly scully-leather-western-cowboy-shirts-exists? The sharp end of the stick is jabbing at the all too common issue of gladly accepting a label, with reality standing in stark contrast to the label. It’s much like a man dressing up as a cowboy everyday, insi
sting that being a cowboy is a state of mind, calling himself a cowboy, acting like a cowboy at the water cooler, but then having nothing else truly cowboy about his life. Putting a pearl button up shirt on doesn’t make a cowboy.

 

A more ridiculous example, if that’s possible, would be a person insisting that they are an astronaut, even though they’ve never been to outer-space, let alone on an airplane. Oddly enough humanity, in increasing measure among western cultures, has a tendency to maintain perceived existence apart from reality; as if living a lie is somehow better—effectively bifurcating individual existence into actual, and perceived. Men call themselves women, girls call themselves boys, and public restrooms are the grounds of segregation or discrimination. When we read these thing in the news we see the obvious, potentially maddening, and highly confusing reality of calling apples, oranges.

Arguments like this might bring to mind these current cultural issues, and even lead to great consternation, but do little for us regarding self-reflection. The tendency is to collectively shake our heads in unified disapproval at the reasonable-logical-moral inconsistency of it all. But this isn’t what we are called to do. The Scriptures call us to do a little looking in the mirror, (Matthew 7:2-5).

While glancing in the mirror to find the log, it should be evident that we are children of our culture. No matter how much we try to get away from it, we reek of the stale odor of ‘Merican-consumer-driven-Evangelical-mores. From the music we sing, to the set up or our buildings, the clothing we wear, or refuse to wear, and the arguments/conversations that are constant and common amongst the ranks. I’m not saying that it is all bad, but sometimes we need to empty the dirty bath water and hold tight to that baby.

As cultural offspring, it is possible for the church to call apples, oranges in subtle ways, and right inline with culture’s influence. That is, confessing Christians can become blind to, and at ease with glaring inconsistencies in their lives. However, genuine Christians will come under conviction of such errors, under the power of the Spirit and the Word of God. Jesus Christ and his gospel transforms culture as he renews hearts and minds. Men and women, in Christ, work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Pray that God would grant his church a self-awareness to see the water in which we swim, not accepting the status quo of nominal Christian existence, where apples are called oranges, and a pearl button up makes a cowboy. Self-awareness is a gift from above.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23–24