Disenculturation (1 Corinthians 9:20-23)May 1, 2022 | Brandon Cooper
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Good morning. Go ahead open bibles of First Corinthians chapter nine. First Corinthians chapter nine will be in verses 20 to 23. This morning, as you’re turning to First Corinthians nine a list of chapters tells a story in our book I recommended last week of watching her nephew. You know eight 9 – 10 year old boy at the time. Squish a peach into you know, pulp and then toss it as angrily as he possibly could out the front door while screaming stupid peach. Trying to figure out what exactly went wrong with this peach. Well, what had happened is that he had climbed up onto the counter to grab himself a peach, and in the process of getting back down had smacked his head, the kitchen cabinets and so he’s in a bit of a blind rage at this point. And you know that when you feel blind rage, something must be punished. But he knew that he couldn’t risk breaking his parents cabinets. So the peach suffered instead? Isn’t it good to know that we mature, right? Which is why no one has ever tossed a golf club into the pond After slicing their shot. You understand the point right? Hurt by the church? unsatisfying answers to the questions you have hypocrisy. What do we do in response to that so often we toss the innocent peach rather than kick the offending cabinet that is we’re so quick to toss Christianity, Jesus, because of weird, ignorant, or even offensive Christians, or even just those who profess Christ who may or may not be Christians. This is a proverbial baby and bathwater sort of moment, isn’t it? And I would submit that it would be far better to toss the tepid filthy water and keep the precious baby. So here’s our advice for today kind of our main point is don’t deconstruct dissent culture eight instead, don’t deconstruct dissident culture eight. Instead, I’m stealing that 100% from a man named Hunter Beaumont, who wrote an article by that exact name. Now dissing culture eight is a made up word that you’ve never heard of before. And that’s fine, because he made it up, I’m pretty sure of it. We’re gonna explain that word. As we get to it, just hang on to it for now, don’t deconstruct this and culture aid in stead. Now, if you’re here with us this week, and you weren’t here last week, you might be a little bit confused. We are talking about this phenomenon of deconstruction or ex evangelicals, that is people who walk away from the faith D convert as it were, we’re building on some of what I talked about last week. So if this is new to you, especially highly encourage you to go back, listen to that as well. But what are we gonna do today, we’re gonna try and learn some lessons from Paul, especially about what is and is not the gospel. And then what that means for you, especially if you’re considering deconstructing and what it means for the church. Let me read first Corinthians 920 to 23. And we will dig in to the Jews I became like a Jew, to when the Jews to those under the law, I became like one under the law, though I myself am not under the law, so as to when those under the law to those not having the law, I became like one not having the law. Do I’m not free from God’s law, but I’m under Christ’s law. So as to when those not having the law. To the week I became weak to win the week, I have become all things to all peoples that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Alright, let’s start by looking at again, what is and is not the Gospels. But if we want to look at the gospel, Colonel here. So Paul, in this passage is explaining to the Corinthians really his philosophy of ministry, how to reach diverse cultures, with the gospel.
And he is reaching very different cultures. He’s touring all throughout the Roman Empire, very different backgrounds, languages, all the rest. And how would we describe his philosophy of ministry? Well, in a word, it is flexible. Paul is saying that the preacher can adapt his or her presentation of a change LIS gospel to changing audiences. So for example, he says, When I’m ministering to the Jews, of course, Paul is himself Jewish by upbringing. I might keep kosher. Not a big deal again, that’s how he grew up so probably feels comfortable in that realm might go through some of the ceremonial washings or purity rituals. In fact, we see him an axe going through a purification ritual when he gets back to Jerusalem. Oh, or this is probably what he’s talking about here. Frankly, one of the ways that he becomes like a Jew is continuing to submit to the discipline procedures local synagogue, because they keep beating him. They keep whipping and flogging him with 39 lashes. And he keeps saying, okay, because I want to maintain my network here among the Jewish peoples. So he becomes like a Jew to reach the Jews, of course with the Gentiles. Well, that might be a different story. They serve him a bacon cheeseburger, okay, he’s good for he’s not keeping kosher anymore. So flexible, not infinitely elastic, by the way, but flexible, not infinitely elastic, meaning he’s unwilling to compromise the gospel, you see that plenty as well. So if the gospel is at stake, that’s something else. In fact, he even kind of says that at one point as he starts to sound like maybe he is compromising the gospel to those who not having the law became like one not having the law. But let me be clear here, he kind of says, If not, like, I just do whatever I want. I’m still under Christ’s law. So he’s unwilling to compromise the gospel, but he is flexible. You don’t need to become a Jew. In order to become a Christian, you don’t need to be a Gentile be a Christian, either. So we can adapt. We can adapt. Paul says he is going to deliberately identify with the group that he’s trying to reach, to the extent that he’s able, in essence, he shares their condition, which reminds us a lot of Jesus, frankly, Jesus perfectly willing to identify with those he’s trying to reach so that he, you know, becomes flesh, in fact, shares our condition, Christ became what we are, that we might become like him. And Paul does the same thing. He’s following in his masters footsteps. As David garland puts it, in his commentary in First Corinthians, He imitates Christ, self emptying, humiliation, and suffering for others. So this is good. And as we kind of keep working through the the text here, just in this gospel kernel section, we’re going to look at a principle, a problem and a practice. So let’s start with the principle. What is the principle that we can draw out of First Corinthians 922 23, about the gospel colonel, it’s this because the gospel transcends culture. We can adapt it to different cultures, right, the Gospel transcends culture. So we can adapt it to different cultures, again, not infinitely elastic, but adaptable, we can, I can use this metaphor, dress it up in different cultural clothes. Depending on where we are, we see this throughout X, by the way, not making this up. This is exactly what the early church does. So look at for example, Acts chapter 13, Paul’s speech in a synagogue in Syria and Antioch, and compare that to Acts chapter 17. When Paul is speaking to a group of Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill, in Athens. What do we see radically different style? Different starting point, different quotations? Do I quote from the Old Testament? Or do I quote, pagan poets? But the same timeless message in both cases? So it’s adaptable to different cultures? Most obvious example of this, of course, is that we can speak of the gospel in different languages. That is an adaptation to culture, isn’t it? And you may go, well, obviously, it’s not that obvious. In Islam, you cannot translate the Koran out of Arabic. It’s no longer the Quran at that point. Whereas look at Christianity, this is fascinating. The very first time the church proclaims the gospel, they do so in every language simultaneously. That’s the point of Pentecost. The Gospel does not belong to any one culture, not even the Jewish culture from which it springs. So there there there are people all over the place, and they’re speaking in tongues, so that it comes out in every language. At the same time, it is adaptable, there’s no distinct Christian dress. So you can look at someone to go Christian. Because we look like whatever culture we live in. There’s no distinct Christian musical style, or even distinct worship elements. Yes, but the type of worship service, the worship order, those kinds of things look very different in different cultures. One of the things we say here a lot of courses that the gospel challenges and redeems every culture. So the gospel is going to critique every culture at certain points, and at the same time, you can live As a Christian in every culture so that in llaman, sunnah he’s a Gambian theologian. His famous phrase, Christianity allows someone to become a redeemed African, and not just a remade European, let’s say. So that is the principle. Gospel transcends culture can be adapted to different cultures. Here’s the problem.
The problem is that we often confuse our cultural manifestation of Christianity with the real thing with transcendent Christianity. As if the clothes matter more than the Gospel itself. This has plagued historic missions, even literally, by the way, this whole close is to, like used to be able to say go to the jungles and and look at at an indigenous tribe dressed in indigenous dress. And then you’d have the one guy in black slacks, white shirt and a tie. Because he’s the preacher. I’m not even kidding about this. Like you had to preach wearing a tie, because you know, that’s what Jesus did. And so that’s what we do, right. So this has plagued historic missions, but thankfully, today contemporary missions is figuring this out. Certainly in an even now, missionaries will, we’ll talk about one of the one of their benchmarks for knowing that a church is actually established in a culture is when that church begins to write its own music. Because it’s now being expressed in that culture, get nothing wrong with sharing music, we are a universal Catholic Church, as Kyle just mentioned to us. And so like I’m grateful we sing How Great Thou Art, you know that the Swedish him, right. I’m grateful. They translated the theology a little bit better and the Swedish version, but that’s a different story, right? But I’m glad we can share and it’s fine if they sing some viruses. But if every church in every culture on the planet is singing Hillsong, something has gone so terribly, terribly wrong. This is true. I should point out this maybe matter a little bit more, but we’re not really talking missions today. But something else right, true generationally as well. That one of the ways you know the church is established in a generation isn’t that generation begins to write its own music. This is one of the reasons why we keep updating the songs that we sing here. Do we want to pull from an historic stream of songs? Absolutely. But we will also favor the emerging generation. As we choose our songs. For the sake of reaching the new culture. This church has been in Elmhurst since 1910. How many different cultures have we had to reach? And those 112 years? Six, seven, quite a few. So we got to do missions, we got to update. Because remember, everything we choose to do as a church is either biblical, meaning it’s commanded in Scripture, baptism, Lord’s Supper, something like that. Traditional, meaning it’s the way we used to do it, or contextual, meaning we’ve tried to figure out the best way to share the gospel in our context. And of course, the challenge for us is that we love our traditions, and understandably, songs that were meaningful for you as a kid that doesn’t go away, right? So we love our traditions, because it’s what we know. But that can create some problems. So what is the practice then? What is the practice if the gospel really does transcend culture, we can adapt it to different cultures, we’ve hinted at it already. The practice is contextualization. we contextualize the gospel for its context. We can adapt it, it’s elastic, not infinitely. So it is flexible. So we adapt the gospel to its context. To do that, we need to separate the timeless gospel from its cultural husk, which is of course, time bound, we need to dress the gospel up in the right clothes, so to speak, and sometimes literally, even so that the preacher doesn’t look like he comes from wherever the missionary came from. We do this all says, verse 20, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the Gospel, so that people will know Jesus, and join his future kingdom and its little outposts here on Earth, and not my little tribe. Remember, Jesus came specifically to gather people from every tribe, and language and nation. Jesus wants people from everywhere. And so right there, we got to say, there should be some diversity in our churches. He doesn’t want us all to speak the same language and all of that. So to do this, though, demands self forgetfulness, and sacrificial service. Again, speaking in sort of these missiological terms here, we might need to eat some different foods, or sing songs that you hate. Or even occasionally, like Paul, get wet. it so that you can maintain a network for the sake of evangelism. How could we not, because we want to become all things to all peoples that by all possible means, we might save some. And that sounds worth it.
That’s kind of the the theology of the passage. Now let’s talk to two groups here today. First group is for ex evangelicals, those who are deconstructing those who are thinking of deconstructing those who know somebody who’s deconstructing those who are under the age of 35. Now we understand the main point, don’t deconstruct this in culture eight. Instead, keep the gospel colonel, toss the cultural husk. So instead of throwing the stupid peach and a bit of a tantrum, at the same time, direct your frustration at the proper place. So here’s what Hunter Beaumont says, and I love this. It’s kind of a main point in so many ways. What if Christianity isn’t synonymous with your childhood church? What if you could return to faith and discover the actual Jesus, but it wouldn’t be like going back to what you left? Those questions are just inculturation sorts of questions. You may reject certain cultural manifestations that you find wanting, without needing to reject Jesus. Because let’s be honest, here for a moment, many church cultures are very much in love with our cultural manifestations. And some of those cultures are, frankly, antithetical to the gospel, that contradict the gospel. Because we love our culture so much, we let it pervert and distort the pure gospel of Christ. Let me give you a powerful example of one and this is actually a key catalyst to the gospel recovery movement of which this church is very definitely part. It’s a story that Matt Chandler tells, it has to do with purity culture, some of you are probably familiar with purity culture kind of reached its heyday in the 90s, maybe early 2000s. Just to be really, really clear, as I tell the story, I am pro purity, because scripture is pro purity. I am largely anti purity culture, because it was kind of messed up. It was behavior centered. It had to do with scare tactics. You know, if you have sex, you will get gonorrhea and you will die. Like that’s the approach. And it dealt in guilt and shame. There was just a whole bunch of prohibitions, there was nothing of the the promise, the better. Yes, that scripture offers. So Chandler’s at one of these cringy, 1990s abstinence events. And the speaker has this beautiful illustration, he hands a rose out of this pack of you know, 200 teenagers or whatever, and has them pass it around. And you know, get to know the rose kind of thing. So you smell the rose, you touch, you know, feel the petals, all that kind of stuff. And this has meant to be an illustration, of course of sleeping around. Everybody gets to touch that kind of feel. Well, what happens to this rose as it gets passed up to the speaker at the end, 200 Teenagers have touched it at this point, it is mangled, to say the least. And the speaker holds up the rows and go Who wants this rose? When you get the point, of course, right? This is what sleeping around does. Why would somebody wants somebody who’s been used and it’s all used up like this. It feels like a really good illustration of the danger of sleeping around unless you listen with different years. Now imagine that you have an unbeliever who’s there at that event, hoping to hear about Jesus for the first time. And this is an unbeliever who’s slept with three guys already. What did she hear? Or what about the girl who’s been abused? And who is really struggling to figure out what this defiling of her has done to her? Is, is this on her? Is this the other person fully? That’s a complicated question for her Of course, the guy who messed up the guy who loves Jesus and goes to youth group, but you know, he’s 16 and he’s got hormones and he slept with his girlfriend. Would it be just here with this rose of being held up at that point? You’re not wanted? You’re unclean. So Chandler tells the story, if you know anything about Matt Chandler, he makes me look timid as a preacher. So that’s kind of who he is. He actually held his tongue at the event, but he’s he tells the story. And he gets that point where the guy says, Who wants the rose? He says, Jesus. Jesus is the one who wants the rose. That’s the whole gospel. You’re unclean. You messed up.
And he loves you anyway. Like, do you remember the story of Jesus at the house of Simon the Pharisee and the woman comes up who’s the main Gold rose. And she bursts into tears because she’s got to love for the first time in her life. And she washes his feet with her tears, and she drives him with her hair, which you’re not supposed to do. Because pious Jews, women wouldn’t let their hair down around a man who wasn’t their husband. And Simon, the Pharisee freaks out in the church looks a lot like Simon the Pharisee, don’t we? Do you know who this is? Do you know that he shouldn’t be in your congregation, she shouldn’t be in your congregation. And Jesus tells a little parable. And the point of the parable is those who are forgiven much love much. And you Simon, you’ve got a lot to learn still, instead of d, converting descent, Coltrane. Get out of that, because that’s not the gospel. So what are you going to need to do to descend culture eight, you’re gonna have to learn to read culture, you’re gonna have to learn to separate gospel from culture. And that requires us learning to read culture, both the culture of the church in which you grew up, and the culture of the world in which we inhabit. And the problem with reading culture is that like seeing error, it’s really hard to do, because we just kind of breathe. And this is why we so rarely notice our church culture until we leave it. Why does everybody leave the faith in college? It’s not because the professors present really compelling arguments against Christianity, I could do that for you today. It’s because they just went to a different culture. And all of a sudden, they’re getting caught up in that culture, but they’re still following culture. We talked about this last week, when you’re floating on the tube, you’re just going on a different River in a different direction at this point. So one of the things that’s most important and hear me on this is get involved in a church that talks about gospel and gospel and culture and how they relate together. We will do that here. I promise you, we do it a lot. But if you go away, you go to college, you move, find a church like that, for sure. Start to separate that changing culture from a changeless message. What’s the kernel? What’s the husk? Why, why do you got to do this because you might be thrown away a perfectly good peach. That’s why a bad messenger doesn’t make the message false. And by the way, bad listening doesn’t make the bad that doesn’t make the message false, either. Like one reason to do this to separate culture and gospel is to make sure that you understand the real gospel like that you’ve heard correctly. I saw this just last week, was a friend on Facebook who former student who has deconstructed her faith. And she posted something about the damage Christianity does to children, and how like, psychologically devastating the Christian message is. I might disagree, but here’s how it started. Like, of course, it damages kids, because what does Christianity say? First, it tells children that they are bad, wicked, evil by nature, and have no inherent worth. That’s as far as I got, by the way. I like what I Hold on. Okay. Bad by nature. Yes. And I would like to argue that one with you, if you disagree, the evidence is everywhere. Okay. It’s the only empirical doctrine, but we could talk about it. That’s fine. Like I’m I’m willing to have this conversation. But it’s that second part, because they’re bad by nature, they have no inherent worth. What, what part of Christianity is that? Where do you find that in Scripture? Who told you that? No one thinks that in fact, there’s a song we just introduced to the congregation a few months ago, I couldn’t remember the first time I heard it with Kyle at a moody pastors conference. Shout out to the moody peeps again, okay, getting lots of shout out shout outs today. And this line, captivated me so much actually took a picture of it so that I could remember it to wonders here that I confess my worth, and my unworthiness. You see, you could be unworthy, because you’re bad by nature and still have inherent worth. Are you rejecting a false distorted straw man sort of Christianity, whether yours or maybe of the church you grew up in? So let’s let’s do this for a bit. In the next few minutes, I’m going to hurt some feelings.
I don’t want to that’s not my aim here. I just care more for those who have left the church or who might leave the church than I do for your feelings in this particular moment. Because there are some husks to discard to just let go like the who wants the rose kinds of moments that we should just drop like I want you to know if you’re deconstructing that there is some stuff that you can drop. You can still eat the peach, you don’t get to choose which stuff you drop, you got to make sure it really is not the gospel, the gospel we keep. But there’s some other stuff that you can drop. If you’re going to reject this stuff that I’m about to share, go for it. Like, let me help you do it. We’re talking five areas in particular. And remember, I’m speaking to this church. With this church’s history and culture, I could mention some other things in other areas, we had a different congregation, different background, all that kind of stuff, I could talk about some other stuff. So you’re gonna have to do some contextualization of your own here where you grew up, first big area got five areas, very first big area politics. Drop them. I have heard people say, and you probably have to, you cannot be a Christian and vote for a Democrat. Almost certainly, because of abortion. That issue specifically. And let me say, again, I am in this church is unequivocally pro life, we are whole life pro life, that is maybe an important qualifier to have there. If you want to know what that means. Get on our website, find our epiphany series, listen to the one on abortion, you can hear our thoughts about it. I understand why people get really caught up in abortion because it’s more of a black white issue, as opposed to say economics, like we could all agree as Christians that we will should be helping the poor. And then we can have different opinions about whether a progressive tax rate is the best way to do that. Because the Bible talks about helping the poor and the Bible does not talk about tax rates at all. Whereas abortion again, a little bit black and white. But here’s the thing, you could be really passionate about some other issues that Scripture does talk about, and frankly, some of them are kind of black white issues. Also immigration, poverty, racism come to matter come to mind. And those might be issues where you feel that Democrats do better on In fact, it’s really interesting. The two strongest voting blocks in this country are white Evans, alcohols and black Evansville vehicles. And they support different parties. That should give us pause, shouldn’t it? But should you just stop and go? Well, maybe the whole black church isn’t wrong here. Or on the flip side? Maybe the whole white church isn’t wrong here. Honestly, this is just me. I’m not there’s not scripture. I think you should have issues with both platforms. At this point. If you’re really comfortable with the Republican Party, 100% you’re really comfortable the Democratic Party 100% read Scripture more, I think there you go, um, back to Scripture now, okay. Like I’m not here to argue politics. But I want us to get to think biblically about politics, Christians, could they really could vote for both or for neither. It’s so interesting. I wrote the sermon on Wednesday. Yesterday, I read a thread from Tim Keller on Twitter, he tried to make this point worth reading. Naturally enough, he got absolutely skewered by the pro life movement. So there you go, you could drop that you really could politics. Second big issue, legalism. And by legalism. I mean, teaching human commands, as if they were God’s commands, drawing boundaries that God did not draw. This might be doctrinal. So that, you know, your church has all the right answers about everything. And anyone who thinks differently is either stupid or heretical. Now, like, we teach what we teach, because we think it’s right, I’ve never taught a view that I think is wrong, of course. So we all have our opinions, but kind of how we talk about our opinions maybe matters a little bit. Like I’ve spoken. I think believers baptism is right. And I think Scripture teaches it. You know, who doesn’t think that? Tim Keller, Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, Augustine, to name a few. You know, who’s smarter than I am? Tim Keller, Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin and Augustine. That should bring a little bit of humility. And we could look at a bunch of issues like that, of course. So if every issue is an essential issue, you probably should drop that some issues are essential. They are the kinds of things we say in the Creed’s. Some issues are not and we can disagree about the age of the earth and just be totally cool about that. More likely, though, when we’re thinking legalism, we are thinking of gray areas, right? Can a Christian see an R rated movie other than the Passion of the Christ? Of course, yes, you should see that one right. But all the other ones are evil by nature. Can a Christian drink alcohol? Now these are issues where wisdom is needed.
Scripture has some things to say about what you show your eyes. Scripture has some things to say about drunkenness, and the care with which you need to drink beer and wine and things like that. But Scripture also says things like it’s for freedom that Christ has set us free. Let each one be convinced in his or her own mind. Not just gray areas, though. Sometimes legalism addresses like white areas like areas that we know are cool. I once watched someone leave a service This is where he was leading worship at the time. Actually, they left the service because it involved a rap. In the middle of one of the songs, I was not the one rapping, I just want to be so clear about that. Okay, that would be ugly, I would leave the service done too. But why is rap inherently sinful? The like act of speaking words quickly that Ryan kinda know. Okay, like, I don’t know what to say about that when I’m sorry, but this one happened. The problem with all these things, too, is that it leads to basically teaching your kids to lead in authentic lives. They have to hide who they truly are, you get comments. And again, I’ve heard these sorts of comments. Just make sure you don’t tell Grandma and Grandpa that you went to the dance. What kind of lesson is that for your kids about what Christianity is and is not. So legalism, third one, closely related, of course, it’s sort of a self righteousness, area, pride and judgmentalism selective sins that are, you know, the real sins, and then my sins are, of course, perfectly acceptable, and then often outright hypocrisy as well. The most obvious example of this, of course, has been the church’s response to same sex attraction, historically speaking, you look at the church’s response to what was back then just the LG movement. We’ve added letters since then, but to the early LG movement, and it was treated with hatred and bigotry, for which there is no excuse. No matter how orthodox you are, in your view of Scripture. orthopraxy matters also the way you live out that right doctrine, Scripture condemns self righteousness and pride far more often than it condemns sexual sin. Several centers back it is like we got to deal with that for sure. Look at how the prophets talk about the sin of Sodom. You know what they don’t actually mention? sexual sin, you know what they do mention? Pride, self righteousness, not caring for the poor, not welcoming the stranger. So, the problem here, of course, is that like the Pharisees, we often focus on the outward then the behavior completely neglecting the motivation, so that you get, say, guilt driven tithing, like you got to give your 10% otherwise, you’re a bad Christian. But that then is all you do. So you can check that box. You’re now religious, there’s no concern for the heart, whether or not you’re actually in love with the things of this world, and certainly nothing like the sacrificial giving, frankly, we’ve seen plenty of here. And so the all of that then leads into a very easy division into us. And then the clean and the unclean. Again, you could read stories of missionaries from a bygone era talking about evangelizing savages that they manifestly did not love, or of course, or earlier, even within our Baptist tradition, hellfire and brimstone preachers, Jesus talks about how more than anyone in Scripture, but he talks about it differently than some preachers do. There’s a lack of compassion and love leads to seeing non Christians as dangers to avoid and begrudgingly proselytize as a duty. Fourth area certitude we did this last week, no questions love. No doubt aloud, just shut up and believe. Not gonna say any more about that. The fifth one, I had a hard time come up with a name for this one. I was schlock. I’m half Jewish. Yiddish words just sometimes are better than English words. I just say it schlock just bad art. cheap stuff. I don’t know how else to say it. You know what it is that that tweet last week that was so good mentioned about the new like deconstruction culture just had fewer Coldplay knockoffs. That’s the schlock. We, as Christians worship and infinitely creative God. And in so doing, we often just regurgitate the surrounding culture badly. Like the approach to writing worship music has, since the rise of CCM largely been what are the kids listening to? And how can we do a dignified version of it? Except that Disney is bad now too. I don’t know what version we’re doing. Now. There is such a lack of artistic integrity, which actually matters. If we worship an infinitely creative God so that we again are often watching absolutely terrible G rated
faith movies, while teaching our kids to avoid things of substance and worse because they might be R rated. PG 13, whatever. Here at this church, we strive very hard to choose music. Nevermind things like decor, which matters very carefully. We’re trying we’re trying to broaden things like genres that we sing in the ages that we reach within the bounds of our personnel. Like we just we have the people we have we can’t play. I’m not sure we can pull off gospel music at this point. Can I get an amen Robert Thank you. I know that I just opened some wounds for some of you. You can feel the dents from the cabinet still. I got I got a physical Amen right there, I’ll take it. Don’t toss the peach. Toss the bad culture for the church, we got some lessons to learn here. Also, what Tozer said a generation ago is still true. A widespread revival of the kind of Christianity we know today in America might prove to be a moral tragedy from which we would not recover in 100 years. Just let that one sting for a moment, a widespread revival, the kind of Christianity we know today in America might prove to be a moral tragedy from which we would not recover in 100 years. Like if we are spreading, who wants this rose kind of Christianity, may the church die in this culture, so that somebody else can come here and start a new church. I hope that’s not what’s happening. But we love our cultural husks. So often, more than we love the gospel kernel, even when our culture contradicts Christ. We got to take a little bit of a detour here, human knowledge has three aspects to it. There’s an evidential and experiential and a social aspect to our knowledge. That is, we know what we know based on facts. That’s the evidence experience, the experiential piece, and community. That’s the social piece. That’s how we get like, everything you believe comes from those three things, right there. We’d like to think it goes in that order. It doesn’t, it goes in the opposite order. The most important piece of why you believe what you believe is your community is the social aspect. It’s shocking, I know, but it’s true. This is why we must pay such close attention to the culture of our community. hypocritical, legalistic, overtly political schlocky community will overwhelm, facts, and even personal experience. And so what happens then, disillusioned Christians meet warm, welcoming, loving community of unfaith. And they’ll drop one and two, you’re gonna hand them a book, like your verdict on the empty tomb, and they’re gonna go, I don’t care. That’s number one. And then number three, and my community I like better than the community of the church I left. In fact, one of the problems we have, of course, is that so often our faith rests almost entirely on number three, on the social alone, you’ve heard of the hand me down faith idea. Why are you a Christian, my parents were Christian. That’s why I’m a Christian. And that’s the only reasons why we work so hard here at this church to do series like this one in the humming of unseen harps, god of scars, no other in my book six reasons Christianity can’t be true. Because we want to make sure we’re equipping people so that their faith rests solid, it’s gonna be a three legged stool, let’s make sure the legs are at least even. But we’ve got to take Paul seriously here, become all things to all people. So by all possible means fewer might leave as a result of our culture. To do that, I got three steps. And I think we all collectively and individually must take so that we kind of distinct culture ate our church as it were, first step, separate the kernel from the husk, separate the kernel from the husk, communicate the timeless message in timely ways. This should not be your grandfather’s church, because your grandfather lived in a different culture. We need to contextualize the gospel relentlessly, continuously constant feedback and evaluation. And like we are open to feedback by the way. So if you’re going, young person hear what you just said, makes no sense. Great. Let us know. This includes, by the way, not just like what happens here. But your personal gospel presentations as well. If you are sharing the gospel the same way today that you were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago, you are like speaking Greek on the streets of Beijing. The only problem being of course, that even some of those Greek words, they sound really offensive to Chinese ears, that we have got to update how we speak about the
timeless gospel. We live in a diverse community, generationally, socio economically, ethnically, we’ve got to strive to come as much to as many as possible. Second, give up your personal preferences. We just did flippy. And so we should be good on this right. But how many of us when it comes right down to it instead of saying to those under the law, I became like one under the law line. I don’t want to act like I’m under the law. That is more often our approach as you mature in the face. You should love the colonel. More and more. Do you have favorite songs. Yes, of course, love the colonel more and more and be grateful for every husk. That doesn’t contradict the gospel at least. And you should be one of the ones who helps because you’ve probably lived through a few different cultures then who can help us discern and expose humbly and lovingly husks that contradict the gospel. Let’s just commit to putting no stumbling blocks in front of other people cultivating peace, striving to communicate clearly and convincingly like Paul, self forgetful sacrificial service, including, by the way, taking the time and energy to sit down with somebody who’s struggling and listening to their doubts, and talking through their questions. Third one, and this is the one that’s going to sting, apologize, and seek forgiveness. If you’ve contributed in any of the ways I mentioned any of those five areas, or others that I didn’t mention, certainly if you’ve contradicted the gospel, by your tone, by your message, by your behavior by your motivation, you need to repent. But even if you simply let your blindness to your own culture, your inability to see error, disillusion someone else, you still need to apologize and make it right. And that’s especially true if it’s your kids. But it is for some of you, I have such a fear in preaching the series. And that’s that those of you who have kids who have wandered from the faith, they’re going to try and memorize my arguments. I would so much rather, you self examined, and just went to them and said, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, that I have clouded your perception of Jesus. And I hope someday you will see him clearly. Despite my frailty, and fallenness. The model in all of this is not Paul, not really. The model is Jesus, who became not just all things to all persons, but became a person himself, who even though he was without sin, yet became sin for us, so that we might become little Christ’s. He laid aside his desires and humbly serve he preached a pure gospel with pure motives, and then perfectly embodied the values of the kingdom church. What’s imitate Jesus with imitate Paul imitating Jesus, some of that purity, that timeless message in a timeless way, in a timely way. An extra angelic calls are those considering it, don’t deconstruct this and cultivate instead who is Jesus? What did he really say? I hope that this is a place where you can find and discuss honest answers to those honest questions. Let’s pray. Lord, how easy it is to confuse our culture, with the culture of the kingdom, which we know only in part, which we see is through a glass darkly, even still.
Lord, help us to strip away all that is truly not essential. And clean to the gospel of Christ Jesus, who he is and what he came to do, and to preach it faithfully. Even as we strive to contextualize it for our context, for the people around us, including even people in this room. Help us to speak clearly. And to live purely, so that our lives match the message we proclaim. And for those Lord in this room who are struggling, who have walked away or who are thinking of walking away, or whom you know, in your Providence will walk away. Lord, would you help them? To ask the essential question, no matter how bad the church community has been, and we are sinners, every one of us so of course, we have messed up many times and in many ways to help them to ask the question Who is Jesus and to fix their eyes on you? To know you as you truly are? Lord, would you open their eyes to see you to believe in you and come back? We pray in Christ’s name.
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