Biblical versus Cultural Christianity
"...count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3
This chart is an attempt to answer those who judge Christians by the atrocities committed in the name of "Christianity" through the ages -- including our own times. Those wars, persecutions, and cruelties had little to do with Biblical Christianity. They had everything to do with man's greedy, power-hungry human nature which seeks its own ways rather than God's. The ungodly expressions of our human nature may change from culture to culture, but the result is usually the same: the people imagine a god that fits their new cultural wants and values, and they learn to see this distortion of Christianity as the true church.
Biblical Christianity means being joined to Jesus Christ through faith in what He did for us at the cross, then allowing Him to live His life through us, so that others might know Him and see His love. (That love may include sharing His warnings as well as His promises with those in need.) The established Church, like Old Testament Israel, has always tended to drift away from its devotion to God and become just other institutions, subject to the same human impulses and painful consequences as the rest of the world. Please dont blame human evils on a "straw-man" or a convenient cultural distortion of Christianity. Consider some of the differences between Biblical faith and today's cultural deviations.
Only understood by those who are joined to Christ through the cross
Believed by the masses to represent genuine Christianity
|It is...||A personal relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ, based on faith. John 17:20-26; Rom. 8:37-39||A religion based on humanist logic, "feel good" experiences, and popular interpretations of Scriptures.|
|Come to God through||Faith in Jesus Christ Who has revealed Himself in His Word and by His Spirit. John 14:6||Faith that our own good works and intentions are good enough.|
|View the Bible as:||The absolute, unchanging, Word of God. The Bible is inspired and guarded by God --- including its honest reports about evil acts among God's people. 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet 1:25||A collection of guidelines, allegories, myths, and stories useful for good living. Offensive verses must be ignored.|
|Our goal is...||God's approval. To know Him, do His will, follow His way, and live each moment in fellowship with Him -- by His wonderful grace! Gal.1:10||People's approval. To please, not offend, the world and its communities. Fun, feel-good fellowship.|
|Source of Strength||God's unlimited grace and power. Gal. 2:20; Phil. 4:19||Our human abilities -- plus Gods help when "needed."|
|See our human self as||Weak and inadequate apart from Christ. 2 Cor. 12:9-10||Strong and capable if we have confidence in Self.|
|See sin as...||Leading to spiritual bondage and death. Rom. 6:23||A normal part of life. Ignore it, or you might offend someone. Or enjoy it, for "God understands" you needs and inclinations.|
|Deal with sin through...||Confession and faith: trusting Jesus as the "Lamb," our Savior who bore our sins on cross. Rom. 6:1-6||Try to do better next time, or just tolerate it. Don't offend anyone by making them feel guilty.|
|Caring for people...||Bring people to Christ. Demonstrate God's love. Trust God to meet needs by His Spirit working through our surrendered lives. Rom. 12:9-18||Bring people to the church or group. Dont tolerate uncompromising Christians who might offend people. Do to others as you would have others do to you.|
|Response to suffering:||Trust God to use suffering to deepen our faith and endurance, prepare us for ministry, and demonstrate His love and power. 2 Cor. 1:3-11||Pray, endure, and trust that God will help. It's okay to challenge Gods love, power, and purpose -- and to seek quick relief through whatever means available -- no matter how it conflicts with His Word.|
|Commitment:||Trust and follow God. No compromise. Rather die than betray our Lord. Rom. 12:1-2||Trust and follow feelings and human logic. Compromise essential to avoid offending the world.|
|Expect to...||Face rejection and persecution. John 15:20-21||Get along and influence the world.|
|Outreach:||Bring God's love and good news to the needy, then bring the needy to Jesus.||Adapt the church to the "community" so that everyone will feel at home.|
|Daily hope:||Eternity with Jesus, our Shepherd and King. 1 Peter 1:3-9||Success, acceptance of all people, fun and fellowship in this life.|
A response to His love:
Praise Him for all that He is to us: Savior, Shepherd, Counselor, King, Wisdom, Righteousness .
Thank Him for all He has promised to do for those who come to Him. (Psalm 10)
Confess your sins and needs to Him, for He really cares and provides for His own. (1 John 1:9)
Choose to trust that He died for your sins and has freed you from its power. (Romans 6:6)
Receive the gift He offers you: His Holy Spirit to guide and equip you. (Romans 8:15-16)
Give yourself to Him as your Shepherd and Lord each day. (Romans 12:1)
Delight in everything that you are and have in Christ! (Ephesians 1:3-12)
Insight from Dennis Monroe: I must also be honest and say that I can see how I exist more times than I would like in the cultural side of the chart. I think that all real Christians find themselves there at times. The natural man is not gone, and it can be a real war at times to remain focused on the face of the Lord. But this is the nature of the battle, and being willing to fight it in the right direction (the face of the Lord), is how we learn. If God had simply given us "instant peace" by taking the natural man away, there would be no basis by which we could truly learn the differences between right and wrong -- between God's way and the ways of the world, or saying it another way, the ways of Satan, which is separation from God. We also would not be equipped to fight on the side of the Lord. We need to go through the trials.
Biblical Christianity will offend the masses that embrace cultural Christianity or any of today's blended, Americanized religions. The Pokemon responses show the growing hostility (even among those who call themselves Christian) toward those who choose to follow God. His way seems too narrow and impossible, and only those who are filled with His life understand His amazing grace.
In a world of religious alternatives that offer all God's blessings without accountability, His absolute truth simply doesn't fit. Biblical values become a source of reproof and offense to those who have chosen the wide, popular way. Yet, our God reigns -- and we are on the winning side!
"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ,
and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are saved
and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death
leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.
And who is sufficient for these things?"
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Oswald Chambers comment on Modern Christianity
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