Posted by: Rolf | March 27, 2015

Cultural Christians

Cultural Christians 01

Christianity is flourishing. There are more Christians today in America than ever before, both as a percentage and in total numbers.

Roughly one in three Americans “indicate” they have asked Jesus to forgive their “sins” and grant them the gift of “eternal” life.

Here’s the question. “If religion is such a big part of our lives, why isn’t it making more of an impact on our society?”

The sad “reality” is that claims of religious “commitment” run high, but “impact” is at an all-time low.

Here’s the problem. “Although Christianity is flourishing, many of us who are Christians have gotten caught up in this increasingly bankrupt culture.”

We have “adopted” many of the “values” of the world around us. Maybe it’s the new sexual ethics of “cohabitation, pornography, rampant greed, materialism or winking at the needs of the poor.”

Galatians 5:9 explains why adopting these values is a problem: “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

So when we try to have the “best” of both worlds, we exchange the “truth” of God for a “lie” and the glory of God for “idols.”

We do what seems “right” in our own eyes, we get “engrossed” in the secular world, and we worship “created” things instead of the Creator.

The result? “Cultural Christianity.”

Cultural Christianity “means” pursuing the God we “want” instead of the God “who” is. It is the tendency to be “shallow” in our understanding of God, wanting Him to be more of a “gentle” grandfather type who “spoils” us and lets us have our “own” way.

It is sensing a “need” for God, but on our own terms. It is “wanting” the God we have underlined in our Bibles without wanting the “rest” of Him too.

It is God “relative” instead of God “absolute.”

What has been the result of this adaptive, cultural religion? “Two Kinds of Christians.”

The ease with which people now associate themselves with religion has produced two kinds of Christians: “Biblical Christians and Cultural Christians.”

Jesus was the first to “clarify” the different types of people who would or would not “associate” with Him. The parable of the sower reveals “four” groups of “hearers” of the Word of God.

Group 1: The Non-Christian

“Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” Luke 8:12

Christ makes “clear” the point that not everyone who “hears” about salvation will “believe.”

Group 2: The Cultural Christian Type “C”

“Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” Luke 8:13

Type “C” stands for counterfeit faith. Among us are some who “profess” to be Christians, but in “reality” they are not Christians at all; they are cultural Christians, type “C.” They have a counterfeit faith, “a faith that is not a genuine faith in Christ.”

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

Without sounding a “false” alarm, but in love, I encourage every man who finds himself to be a “cultural” Christian to consider whether his faith is merely a “defeated” faith or a “counterfeit” faith.

If counterfeit faith is the “condition” of your life, don’t be discouraged.

God loves you with an everlasting love and wants to reconcile with you. In the next chapter we will look at how you can get on, or back on, the right track.

Group 3: The Cultural Christian Type “D”

“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:14

Sadly, there is little marginal “difference” between the way many Christians spend their “money” and the way non-Christians spend theirs. For a group whose primary commission is to be “salt and light” to a broken, confused world, this example does little to present a “viable” alternative to empty lifestyles.

Type “D” stands for defeated faith. The type “D” cultural Christian lives in defeat. There is little, if any, marginal difference between his lifestyle and the lifestyle of the man who makes no claim to be in Christ.

He has never understood, perhaps because he has never been told, the difference between what it means to be a cultural Christian versus a biblical Christian. This is the category I flirted with before God brought me to my senses.

Group 4: The Biblical Christian

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8:15

A biblical Christian is a man who “trusts” in Christ, and Christ “alone,” for his salvation. As a result of his “saving” faith he desires to be “obedient” to God’s principles out of the overflow of a “grateful” heart (Romans 1:5). Obedience doesn’t save us; faith does.

This explains why some men can be “cultural” Christians, they have a saving faith, but they have not “obediently” made Christ Lord over all their lives. They have not “allowed” the Holy Spirit to empower them.

Cultural Christians 02

What does it “mean” to be a cultural Christian today?

Lessons from Elementary School

Do you remember your elementary school teacher demonstrating the principle of “diffusion?” She started with a clear glass of water. Then with an eyedropper she took some “red” food dye from a bottle and squeezed one drop into the glass. Within moments, the water was tainted with a “pinkish” hue as the dye permeated the water in the glass.

To be a cultural Christian in your parents’ “generation” was to be like a clear glass of water with one drop of red dye. In other words, the secular culture was not that “different” from the Christian culture.

That was before the days of “pornography, abortion on demand, explicit sex during prime-time TV, songs that degrade women, and a drug culture” that’s hard to avoid. So a man could be a “cultural” Christian and still be somewhat close to a Christian “worldview and values.”

To be a “cultural” Christian today is like having the whole “bottle” of red dye poured in the glass.

The man “looking” into the mirror will never change until he is “willing” to see himself as he really is, and to commit to “know” God as He really is. This objectivity “anchors” a man; it gives him the “clarity” of thought he needs to be a “biblical” Christian.

Is the man looking “back at you in the mirror” a cultural Christian or a biblical Christian?

Until every church disciples every man…
Patrick Morley, PhD
Founder & Co-CEO, Man in the Mirror

In His Grip and Serving Grace…

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