Engaging our Culture? Or ARE WE STUCK ON LIVING Christian PRINCIPLES?
In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it”. So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.” (John 1:1-5; 14 NLT)
…"having a form of godliness but denying its power" (2 Tim 3:5).
ARE WE STUCK ON LIVING Christian PRINCIPLES?
God never called us to to live by Christian principles. He calls you to live in relationship with the living God, Jesus Christ. We are to literally live an incarnate life moment by moment. Asking God to help us when we fail to get up quicker than the last time we have failed. Incarnation living is to live life from not our own self or our own desires. Incarnation living is to represent in a bodily form Christ who is supplying our life from within as our source. When we embody Christ to those around us we are representing the pierced hands, feet, and speared side of Christ. We are helping people to the heart of God through in living form being who Christ is and all that he has done by Grace not representing oneself, we represent a Kingdom here on earth because Christ who is our King reigning and ruling from our hearts as a channel of His kingship to those of another kingdom. We make the subjective,objective and through having God’s interests, thoughts and feelings live them through our Human spirit that has been regenerated inwardly to outward representation of the Throne of God that is with in us now. When we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who is our Source that has internally transfigured us from within. We are by every moment the reality of Christ to the world by manifesting the Glory from within our very lives demonstrate plainly, relevantly, and practically the bodily form of God upon this earth from our new hearts and new nature. Our new nature with in us was birthed from above and from within ourselves so it does not depend upon our own effort to have God be channeled or flows out from us. God the Holy Spirit is the Living Water that will flow through us to make obvious and apparent who God is and what He has already performed and accomplished. The unfinished work of God is to emerge the Finished work of God to the Lost and depraved world around us through our lives as we are the manifestation of the invisible God. We are the visible and external embodied truth of God for God’s Truth lives within us we can be the personification of Christ who has preeminence of our lives. This means that we live the personal qualities of God’s nature that lives within our new hearts and by our new Christly minds.
Incarnational living finds its source in the love and concern of God for His creation. God proved, in a real way, His care for humankind by becoming human being. It must be this love of God that embraces us and motivates us, in turn, to care for others.
Without giving up His divine character, Jesus became fully immersed within the culture of the people to whom He brought the excellent News. He was part of the culture, yet transcended it. He lived contentedly surrounded by the culture, yet was a representative of transformation. The incarnation is a difficult to comprehend and exist within the world of the un-churched culture. We must make the Great News culturally relevant to them, and take it into their world.
Outreach to the un-churched must consider the issues of incarnation by going where people go, and living in their world. The methods we use to reach them must be based upon developing authentic relationships that are living. We must model a lifestyle of Christ-likeness in the context of friendship and serving people as Christ has served us. The church must meet the needs of the un-churched within the world in which they live, instead of confrontational evangelism, practicing servant evangelism and living an incarnate life as living epistles that can be easily read, overflowing with the life of Christ from within as a follower of Christ.
Because Jesus is love incarnate, He chose to leave the glory of heaven and dwell among men. Think about this… God the eternal Son became man to dwell side by side with each of us that he created! Now we must prove through our lives that man can still dwell eternally side by side with God.
Incarnational living is not just about remembering an event in the past but the events of the future as well. We must come to realize that the best days are ahead of us, not behind. The Kingdom of God is just around the corner. We must stop yearning for the good old days and begin to look forward with joyous anticipation and excitement that the best is yet to come. God is yearning to be incarnate in your life…today and in all your tomorrows. The Kingdom of God is just ahead of us. It is time for us to look farther down the road. The fullness of His Glory is still yet to be revealed !!
Jesus, the God who became man, is our example. Without giving up His divine qualities, He nevertheless became fully immersed within the culture of the people to whom He brought the Great News. He was part of the culture, yet transcended it. He lived happily within the culture, yet was an agent of transformation. Are willing to be also agents of transformation today with our lives and engage culture.
Incarnate can be defined as: To represent in or as if in bodily form; to embody: To represent in bodily or material form to include; to integrate: represent; materialize; externalize: make external or objective, to turn outward; To direct interest, thoughts, or feelings into a channel leading outside himself or herself. make external or objective, or give reality to, make manifest: To show or demonstrate plainly; reveal, exhibit, make plain, clear, obvious To make manifest or apparent to represent in or as if in bodily form: body forth Readily seen, perceived, or understood materialize : emerge To take physical form or shape. To cause to become real or actual , objectify: To make objective, external, or concrete, make external or objective, or give reality to, personalize: To take (a general remark or characterization) in a pe
rsonal manner. To attribute human or personal qualities is to personify Make personal or more personal, personify: To think of or represent as having personality or the qualities, thoughts, or movements of a living being from within
One of the weaknesses of the Church today is that we preach and teach people principles without the relationship. We teach so much head knowledge and bible doctrine on one extreme or on another extreme share stories that contain little or no biblical truth nor how to apply it relevantly in practical Christian living through the Word of God. These extremes are so prevalent in the American or Western church that we have disengaged from the culture and put bars on our churches to keep the sick or those that don’t dress like us, act like us, talk like us, behave like us, or who really doubt and are just as skeptical as Apostle Thomas, which Christ came to seek and save out of the religion to bring them into a relationship. The church mostly has become institutionalized or become so established in organization it has lost its organic nature. The church is Christ’s Bride and is living we can try through religion to over program, make it consumer friendly, or become a movement of together through the organism of the Body of Christ here on earth. Instead it has become a refuge from the World, as an alternative to Changing the world by turning the World upside down by operating within the world but not of the world through living Christ incarnate to the lost and dying world.
The western church is big on ten step programs, "how-to" methods and acrostics to illustrate memorable ideas. There is a place for establishing principles to change negative behavior. However, we are not called to have a relationship with principles, but a living God. Living by principles is the equivalent to living by the law in the Old Testament. It is rooted in the Greek system of learning and is dependent upon our strength instead of being led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Principle-based living is powerless living. This makes our Christian experience a religion instead of a relationship. "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law" (Gal 5:18).
We read about principle-based followers in the book of Acts, "The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people" (Acts 5:12-14). There was a group of followers who liked being taught but never entered the game. The prophet Jeremiah tells us about the nature of God and His desire for every believer.
This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Engaging our Culture?
When the church embraces this mandate, how does it engage the culture around it? On the one hand, everyone within the church interacts daily with the culture in which they live. On the other hand, the church exists as a subculture that is out of step with larger Western society. We as the Church have tended to be reactionary rather than missional. We are known for building high walls around our churches and doing in-reach really well with programing our people like prisoners are programmed in institutions. We have our unspoken rules in the church, that sound like prison programing instead of freedom and Grace. This lack of missionary spirit has contributed to the churches mass marketing approach and consumerist culture. Every culture that has no missionary presence will eventually become a secular society. We are loosing ground every day with thousands of churches closing or declining in attendance rapidly. If we do not wake up and sound the alarm we will look around ten years from now and wonder what has happened to the CHURCH.
Instead of engaging the culture in which we exist, we have been prone to long for the return of 1954. Rather than incarnate the body of Christ within our present culture, we tend to stand against the culture and chastise the deterioration of society.
Should the church seek to be relevant to the culture in which it exists? On the one hand, the Church must always be distinct from the world in which it exists. We must, for instance, be distinct in the way that we treat one another, as our love for one another is a witness to the power of Christ within our community. On the other hand, we can not be the body of Christ incarnate to this culture if we do not become part of this culture. Christ came into our world and entered a particular time and place. So we as the church becomes Incarnational, the body of Christ manifested within the culture of our missionfield which is everywhere we are in the culture.
One might argue that the church should be wholly distinct from culture, that the culture within the church should be formed only by scripture. This argument would be stronger if it were possible for any church to remain distinct from its culture.
Friend, have you been guilty of living a life based on principles instead of knowing the One who authored the principles? Invite Jesus to be Lord over your life and begin to spend time with Him every day. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you through every moment of your day.