"Cultural Christianity means to pursue 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", writes Pat Morley, in The Man in the Mirror. The first time I read that paragraph it grabbed my heart, it twisted, tossed, turned me and left a permanent imprint upon me. I realized then, that I was a Cultural Christian and not a Biblical Christian. What happened along the way? What happened between accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior as a young child growing up in the Church, and now. What happened along my pilgrimage to today? I fear what happened to me, happens to many Christians today.
Let me tell you what happened to me. See if you can relate to this. As long as I can remember, I thought I was a Christian. Heck, I'm an America -- isn't this God's Country? Aren't we a Christian nation? Aren't all Americans Christians? Why, my Mama and Daddy dedicated me as a baby to the Church. Our family went to church every Sunday, Sunday school, and even Sunday night devotion and prayer time at church. Why, one Sunday at the age of 12 I was Baptized by full immersion into "Holy Water." We said the blessing every meal. My mama read me the 23 Psalm every night before bed, and I always said my prayers before going to sleep. Shoot, I even read Christian magazines for kids. My mom and dad did a great job in raising up their children to be Christians. I had it all, so I thought -- I was an American, had a Christian family, and grew up in a mainline Church. So I thought I had it all. But someone was missing from the picture. That someone is now my Friend; that someone is Jesus Christ.
What happened along the way? Why was Christ missing? Now I can look back and say: Well, He was missing because I did not want Him in my life. I just wanted a God of convenience. A God who is there when I need Him, how I need Him, and for any reason that suited me at the time I needed Him. Voltaire once said, "God created man in HIS own image; man has been returning the favor every since." Well, I had created the perfect God. In college he was a God I could place on the bookshelf, and if I was really struggling could take Him down and use him for a little while. Then it was back to the bookshelf. Kind of like a fire-extinguisher God, there just in case of emergency. Now I think, what a patient God he is! The things HE puts up with.
After college I married my college sweetheart. (A huge blessing from God, by the way.) Then it was off to the marketplace in a family business to get, not earn, my slice of the American Dream. My wife and I started attending a church. All our friends were going there. Many people I did business with were going there. I thought this is great. Go to church on Sunday, generate some business for Monday. Learn a few things on Sunday, put God in my desk drawer, and take Him back the next Sunday. This was easy Christianity.
One day I guess God became tired of being put in that dark desk drawer. He had other plans. My wife and I started going to a Sunday School class that was different. It was not the Sunday morning "Rotary Club" class. I did not do business with the people in the class. We were attracted to this class. The class was studying the "Real Meaning of Christmas." The Holy Spirit ambushed me for the first time in a long time. The basic simplicity of learning whom Christ is, struck my heart. By the way, that Christmas was the best ever for me. That was just the beginning. My heart stirred and stirred. I want to know more and more about this Person, our Savior Jesus. The Holy Spirit had changed my heart, and instead of putting God back in my desk drawer on Monday morning, I let Him stay out a little longer. My spurt in growth soon sputtered. I soon became disillusioned with this thing called Church. God still had to go into the drawer when He was not convinient to me, or when He got in the way. But as I grew, I became increasingly disturbed with going to church with cultural Christians who were my best friends on Sunday, only to stab me in the back on Monday morning during a "business deal". The picture just did not look right.
There appears to be a trend in the Church today. This trend may be an old trend, but it is one I have experienced and recognized. This trend is the preaching of the "Gospel of Addition". What is meant by the "Gospel of Addition?" It is simply adding Jesus Christ to your present life, without subtracting sinful ways in your life. Paul states in Acts 26 verse 20 "I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." What Paul is saying, is that we should add Jesus and repent (subtract) the sins, and prove this by our actions. What we say we believe, and what we actually do must be consistent. We are not only challenged to be a believer, but also a "doer". The picture in our hearts must equal the picture we paint by our deeds. Think about it. Are your actions consistent with your values and with the way God wants them to be, not what you want? Aha, another ambush by the Holy Spirit. I need to act on beliefs. I need to be in the image God created me. I need to stop re-inventing God and let God mold me.
James said it well in his letter, Chapter 1 verses 22-25, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. DO what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to DO this, not forgetting what he has heard, but DOING it-he will be blessed in what he does." Whoa, the Holy Spirit did it again, another ambush! Do not only listen and read the word, but be a doer. Or.. Don't just talk the talk or walk the walk, but rather walk the talk. Fully surrender to Him.
I am continually amazed at the patience God has with me. When the timing is perfect, He nudges me along the path of growth in HIM. One nudge He gave me and my wife, was to a new church. A church where most of the membership are doers of the word. A church where the teaching is biblical and challenging. A place where the real God is lifted up and honored, and the God we want is put to rest. Now it is all coming together; now we strive to live fully-surrendered lives to Christ. Now God stays out of the desk drawer. He is on top, in full view for all to see! Yes the journey is long, if fact never-ending. The journey seems slow to us, and it is often-times bumpy, but it is worth taking. It is worth being patient, it is worth the sacrifices, it is worth the subtraction of sins. Why is it worth it? Because of the addition of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ to our lives. Take the journey, submit yourselves to Him fully, worship the God who IS, and not the God you invent. It is worth the greatest value system known to man. It will grab your heart, core out the hard parts, the sinful ways, and give you a better way of living on earth and eternal life with the Father.
This page is a personal outreach of Webservants Ministries. We are a group of individuals who want only to share the gospel with the lost and equip the body of Christ in growing and reaching a lost world for Jesus Christ. If we can do anything to further assist you, or you have a reference you would like to share, please feel free to drop us a line at Webservants@cfdevotionals.org. Peace.