Christ or Culture? Which do you want to keep?
I have been born completely comfortable with change. My whole generation is this way. As human beings we are designed to hate change, but change for my generation has always brought comfort, and entertainment. With each increment of new technological advancement our lives have gotten easier, more comfortable, and filled with more birds flying through the air at little green pigs.
The church however is old. It is really, really old. In the last few hundred years, we have operated like it’s our job to stay old, as if that made us more Holy. There is something about us church people that wants to hold on to the way we have done things before like we think it is the routine that saves us. Like a diabetic shooting themselves with an empty syringe, forgetting it is the insulin that saves them.
Does the way we DO church matter?
I spend most of my day in church, and when I am not in church I am thinking about the church, and I love the church. I love the church, not because, but despite the fact that we hold on to outdated traditions, even when the purpose of those traditions is no longer relevant, and we think of the 80’s as modern. The reason I love the church is because we can meet God there. I also love church because it is a meeting place for people that want to meet God and hopefully want to help others.
OLD does not equal RELIGIOUS
Just because something is old doesn’t make it sacred. My shoes are old but that doesn’t make them Godly. Something being filled with holes does not make it holy. There are traditions in the church that speak to deeper spiritual truths. Traditions that because of this, actually help people. But even many of those traditions meanings have been lost, which makes them empty and pointless.
There are also things surrounding those traditions religiously affiliated, but never with any deep spiritual meaning. Some of these are meant to fulfill a specific purpose, to answer a specific problem. When the problem was no longer an issue we just kept using the tradition like an out-of-date operating system, that we just refuse to press the update button.
Do we trust God or our traditions?
What do you come to church to experience? Religious traditions stepped in mystery but empty, or do you come to meet God? If you come for the second than you need to evaluate the effectiveness of those practices to accomplish their goals. If your traditions aren’t helping you meet with God…change them. The Bible tells us that we worship a God not of the dead but of the living.
Here is why it matters:
You need to make a decision, and the decision doesn’t just affect you, it affects those you care about.
Christianity means following Christ, which means that your faith is not just about you, it’s also about helping others. The commandments we are called to live by are not simply love God, but love God and love those around you. Love God and those in need.
Not everything changes
Technology changes, styles change, traditions change, but humans are still humans. When I read the Bible one of the things that stands out most is how much we, as humans, stay the same. In thousands of years of human history, we still have the same motivations. We still have the same faults. We still have the same problem. We still need the same cure.
We need God
We don’t need a different God than we did 10 years ago, 100 years, or even 1000 years ago. The message is not the problem. As Christians we have the most important message in the history of the world, it’s a message that can change lives, it’s a message that people have died for.
What do you want to save?
You have a choice. What do you want to win people to?
In this generation of change, we have to change, and we have a choice of things to change. We can change the message or we can change the method. Ultimately we all have to make a choice over what is most important to keep, and what is going to actually help people change their lives.
I had a conversation recently about this very issue. I shared with a friend that we as Christians make the mistake of trying to get people to act and look like us. We think that someone who for instance dresses in all black has to stop dressing in black, but I think God has room enough for everyone. The person responded, “When does the person stop dressing in black?”
Essentially we keep assuming that the way we dress, the things we say and do are inherently more holy (which is called self-righteousness) even when they aren’t based on anything even remotely scriptural.
I believe and love God, I believe and love scripture, and I am sick of people adding to it, thinking they know best, especially when their beliefs hinder others from coming to the Lord.
Thousands of years ago Paul and Peter found themselves in a new world. They experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and saw that if they hoped to help people of different traditions then their own traditions had to change. They re-evaluated what was truly important, what truly helped people, and what truly honored God.
It is time for an upgrade
We need to follow Paul and Peter’s example. We need to go back to the drawing board. After all, Jesus wasn’t concerned with keeping the status quo or walking the safe political line. Jesus is a rebel, and he came to bring change, and to make things new (not old, not really really old). If we want to stay relevant in this changing culture we need to ask ourselves, “What is more important to us, to keep Christ or Culture?”