The tendency of the modern church is to define our Christianity by our culture rather than our culture by our Christianity. When we do, our role as the children of God becomes unfruitful. Seeking to fit into the world around us and to enjoy as much of it as possible becomes our driving force. It is then we ask, “Why can’t I?” and “Did God really say?” These exact same questions were asked in the Garden of Eden. The solution is to get back to the Cross. When the Cross is the focal point of our lives and our theology we then see the cost of our questions. “Why can’t I?” put Jesus on the Cross.
We look for ways around what God has said. Unhappy about restrictions on our “freedom in Christ” or possible reductions of our “Christian liberty” we avoid “thus saith the Lord” like the plague. “God didn’t really mean that” answers many an argument–not well but often. “Paul was a chauvinistic pig” answers many others. “But that was cultural…or for the first century only…or, it was a Jewish custom” fills in the cracks.
We try to get away with so much. So often we seek to walk as close to the cliff of the world as possible rather than walking in security next to the mountain of God. Rather than asking, “Does this bring glory to the Lord?” we ask “What is allowable? How far can I go?” The one marks us as interested only in pleasing the Lord; the other marks us only interested in pleasing ourselves.
When we let our culture interpret our Christianity, we get a me-centered philosophy driven by our humanistic tendencies. God isn’t what matters to us at that point–we are. We claim to be serving Him but our lives belie that. Unless we are becoming more and more holy with the sweet aroma of Christ-likeness permeating all that we do then the opposite is true–our lives are becoming more and more worldly with the accompanying stink to prove it.
David, a man after God’s own heart, was praised by God not because of his reign as Israel’s greatest King but because of his deep sensitivity to sin. True he, like all of us, sinned. His sins were sometimes humiliatingly spectacular but truer still was his heart. When he sinned, and was convicted of it, his heart was broken.
These things ought to be evident in our lives as Christians. Too often we look at David’s failures and stop there. The conclusion we draw is that God loved him despite his failures. We fail to see that God hated his failures and disciplined him severely for them. God loved him for his heart that sought to slay his sin, that deeply loved the Word of God and the God of the Word, and that sought the Lord’s glory rather than his own.
The questions the church ought to be asking are not “Why can’t I?” and “Did God really say?” but “Does this glorify my Lord?” “Am I reminding anyone of Jesus in what I say and what I do?” We must stop trying to blend into a culture that hates the One we propose to follow. The world won’t like us one whit more for being a religious version of themselves. They will see through it and mark us as the hypocrites that we are. Cultural Christianity isn’t Christian and everyone but Christians seems to know it. At its core it is about man rather than about God. When we seek God’s way, we will be hated by the world but loved and accepted by the Lord. When we seek our way above God’s, devastating failure isn’t far behind.
The questions that the church have been asking have got to change. Rather than asking “Why can’t I?” and “Did God really say?” let’s ask “Does God’s Word address it?” “Is it befitting people of the Lord?” “Who does this glorify–the Lord? or me?” When we get our questions right, our theology will be right.
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