Our current culture is flowing in the direction of humanism (the belief that man is God). No “Christian" would want to readily admit that, but the lives that many live often reflect a humanistic mentality. We demand to be heard, and we demand that our needs are met. We demand a life of unaccountability to anyone. And we demand to be found guiltless, regardless of our actions. And so, we demand a religion that eloquently caters to those whims.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, modern culture has done a great job of whitewashing sin almost entirely away from the discussion, because sin is offensive and ugly to confront. Talk of sin makes people uneasy, and conviction brings about a recognition of the glaring guilt of all humanity. The preference of modern culture is to just leave the discussion of sin alone, sidestepping the thought of repentance while only concentrating on God’s great love for us. We’ve elevated the attractive elements of "religion" and diminished the unattractive truth of our sin. We’ve streamlined our churches, enhancing their appearance and ministries to become a sort of “eye-candy” for a generation of large crowds who seek professional and guiltless times of worship.
The real message of the Gospel, one that displays fully the depravity of man and his great need for a Savior, is replaced by a message of a God who wants to give us things because He loves us so much. It’s a very attractive message in a culture of humanistic greed, and people will flock to it by the millions. Many modern day preachers will not even touch the idea that repentance of sin is integral to the life of the disciple of Christ. The crowds may become offended and seek out another venue in their quest for the “perfect” God for them. Yet, the message of Scripture is quite clear, “Repent, for the kingdom of God has come near.” (Matthew 4:17)
Culture is concerned with looks, comfort, and everything material. And often, cultural Christianity is concerned with much similar things. Culture would drive us to attend a church with cutting-edge ministries and large contemporary sanctuaries full of arena seats, professional lighting, and outstanding worship bands backlit like a concert. If your church is running fog machines on Sunday morning…well, never mind… The media presentations of our church should be slick and polished, and the coffee shop out front should rival Starbucks.
The pastor should be a narcissistic rock star…and, if he doesn’t have a podcast…well, he may not be “relevant” to culture. He should always make us feel good about God’s love for us, but he should never impose even a passing notion that we may be guilty of anything...ever.
If we attend such a church, one with great concert style worship, “relevant” messages (eloquently delivered on simulcast) espousing our unmerited favor in God’s eyes, and great coffee, then our salvation, and our love of God is validated…right? If we go to a culturally acceptable church, with a culturally acceptable message, then everyone is happy, well entertained, and remarkably comfortable. There’s never a challenge issued to address what the Bible really says concerning our sin. Repent.
The need for repentance is often hidden under the trinkets that wealth and sleek shiny religion can purchase. But, the sickness remains, and it is internal. Our sickness is a sin nature that is native to our flesh, and it’s a nature that has desperately sought to undermine God since Eve first chatted with a snake in the Garden of Eden…a snake who would become the lord of modern day cultural thinking. And so, we have a desperate need for repentance...a desperate need to make Christ Lord.
Religion is important to our culture, but Lordship may not be.
We have to decide if we are willing to serve God, or serve the attractive nature of a God-diminishing culture. Culture Christianity can often make the true message of God in Scripture undesirable…but regardless of our intentions, someone or some thing will be God in our life. It may be ourselves. It may be culture. And, we have to choose wisely…
Joshua 24:15 says, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Repentance is essential to our life in Christ. We cannot hold firmly to our sin and think we are drawing closer to a God who willingly sacrificed Christ for the payment of that sin. Don’t allow cultural christianity to dissuade us from acknowledging our guilt, and the command of God to repent.
Trying to convince ourselves that we truly love God without real and intentional repentance is like kissing the hand of Christ to mark the spot where we plan on driving the nail.
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!