the cultural church

In a culture consumed by consumerism, infiltrated with individualism, and saturated with syncretism, I have to wonder just how well the typical American church measures up to what Jesus intended for His body. We have allowed society to shape us, rather than the Potter. If Jesus were to walk into the typical American church, I have to wonder how he would feel seeing His body tattooed with our own sentiments of nationalism and materialism. I have to wonder if he would come in with whips and overturn the tables.  I have to wonder…would we even let Him in?

This is heavy stuff, guys.

In the book Exploring Ecclesiology, Harper and Metzger talk about the three levels of individualism that have influenced the church.

First, we focus on the single unit of me, myself, and I. What do I want? What will make me happy? What will I get out of worship? This self-centered attitude takes God out of the equation altogether and leaves us with the Convenience church of Self, with its denominational counterpart just down the road for church shoppers who prefer an off-brand.

Second, we focus on the nuclear family, seeing the church as a composite group made up of distinct family units. This destroys any sense of real community in the church and provides no place for those without families. Jesus deliberately made the point that His disciples were His true family, but we have lost that vital sense of belonging in the church.

Third and finally, we focus on our own local churches as separate and distinct from the universal body of Christ. Someone made a very thought-provoking comment in class the other day about how churches try to set themselves apart from “other churches” and use their differences as a selling point. This is typical of the American free market economy (“Compare to Tylenol brand!”) and should never characterize the Church. As I once wrote in another blog post, “Jesus erased cultural, economic, and gender distinctions, and fabricating divisions seems to be a pretty poor way to repay His sacrifice to bring us to unity…Jesus Himself said, ‘If a house is divided against itself, that house will not stand’ (Mark 3:25).”

Well, we’re divided. And it doesn’t look like we’re standing too well, either.

When did it become about us? Christianity has lost its saltiness to a mushy blend of moralistic therapeutic deism. And when salt loses its saltiness….

Look at what’s happening. Don’t look through the rose-colored glasses of cultural perversion; we’ve been blinded long enough. Grasp the big picture of what Jesus intended the church to be. If you haven’t read The Mission of God’s People by Christopher Wright, I highly recommend it. It really opened my eyes to where we need to be…and how far away we’ve gotten.

The church is in desperate need of reformation. What are we going to do about it?

A word of caution: a new denomination won’t solve it. Seeking to separate and distinguish yourself from the church only creates more division. The concept of “No religion, just a relationship” is saturated with individualism. Religion IS relationship — with God and with the church.

We’ve been called out and set apart, to be in the world but not of it. To leave behind anything that hinders. To destroy any part of ourselves that does not look like Christ.

We need to start living like it.

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Published in: on October 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I love this!! Wow you have so many good points! Thanks for sharing your heart!!


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