So, for the last two years or so, something has been well.....to be perfectly frank, pissing me off about Christians and Christianity. I could not put my finger on it, but i could plainly see instances where said grievances were taking place.
Well, last week after conversing with my friend Greg while he was delivering Pizza I had a small epiphany of sorts.
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the culture and lifestyle of those people, esp. among the young, who reject or oppose the dominant values and behavior of society.
So, as followers of Jesus we are supposed to be different.(Romans 12:1-2) Jesus outlines practical ways to live this out in His famous Sermon On The Mount. He explains to those unknown onlookers that day that the way we are supoosed to interact with the rest of the world is to do the opposite of what your natural instincts tells you to do and what the world tells us we are entitled to do.
We are called to give up our rights to serve and love those around us.
Half-ass solution to Problem 1.
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A cultural subgroup differentiated by status, ethnic background, residence, religion, or other factors that functionally unify the group and act collectively on each member.
So, instead of living counter culturally we haved demeaned ourselves by creating our own sub-culture. We now live in this safe and sanitary enviroment where we can live away from the corrupt world and feel good about it. This proverbial bubble that we have created for ourselves is warm and fuzzy and safe, but it is not condusive to Kingdom or missional living. See, we have our own Christian music, clothes, lingo, even theme parks. But would anyone not under this umbrella we have go out and purchase these things? take Christian music for example. A few months ago i was having a conversation with a few friends that were on tour and were staying at my house after a show here and one of them brought up the point that having a whole genre of music dubbed as christian is very confusing. What does christian music sound like? now, obviously there is Praise/Worship music because it has a certain sound and quality that makes it unique. But, as above said friend stated, " the only reason to label yourself as a christian musician or band is to make money, because you are marketing yourself to a certain type of people." anf then he so eloqeuntly staed "If we are to be the light of the world then we should be letting our light shine to everyone, putting ourselves out there so others that have not been introduced to Jesus can see a glimpse of the amazing God we worship."
So, here in lies the problem, we have segregated ourselves from our own culture and created a dangerous Us vs. Them mentality while all the while trying to grab people from the outside and pull them in to our bubble. Eric Bryant writes in his book Peppermint Filled PInatas,
" The world too often sees the invitation to connect to the church as irrelevant or at best a cumbersome process. People have to learn our religious language, sing our songs, and discuss our topics. For those who make the effort to connect with us, we reward them with rules, traditions, and conditional acceptance, yet Jesus offered grace, forgiveness and love. Rather than religion, Jesus offers relationship. As part of the body called the church, we need to strive to eliminate barriers that keep others from connecting with our community and connecting with Jesus."
I think that Jesus' idea of life is good enough to stand on its own, we dont need to give it a spa treatment, dress it up in a pretty outfit and sell it at the lowest price. We just need to live in the way Jesus described and the condition of the heart will begin to change and then people WILL notice. Grace is irresistable, but only if it is lived out. not just talked about.