Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

In America, we Christians might wonder why we don’t suffer any real hardship for the gospel.    In 2 Tim 3:12 Paul says,

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”

Well, if that’s the case, wheres the disconnect?   Some might point to lesser persecution such as “making fun” of our Christian beliefs, “looking down” on us, or otherwise discriminating against us.   But is that really the same thing?  Here’s John Calvin on the issue:

“[E]ven if God spares us from being amongst tyrants who could torture us, or evil men who could attack us, and he ensures that they only bark at us; yes, even if he leaves us in peace, it is because he pities our frailty and spares us because of our weakness. Let us not flatter ourselves in this meanwhile, but let us pray to God that through his Holy Spirit he would strengthen us. Then, when he calls us to line up ready for combat, we will not act like raw recruits, but will have premeditated long since the fact that we must share in the sufferings of Jesus Christ in order to reach the glory of his resurrection.” – John Calvin, Sermons on Galations.

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So, I’ve been reading some Robert Reymond’s “A New Systematic Theology.” And in the first chapter he made this point about language.

“Far from being incapable of expressing literal truth, language in not only the most capable vehicle by which literal truth may be communicated from one mind to another—it is the only such vehicle!”

Wow! I don’t know about you but that has huge ramifications in my mind – considering our present day and the nature of our culture.

I mean, we’re almost illiterate today! We have become consumed by the ‘image’ and have shrunk our ability to deal with words. Not only that, we are being told that ‘images’ are where it’s at. We’re encouraged to pursue visual forms of communication as some way of advancing to truth.

I must say that up until now, and for quite some time, this way of thinking has influenced me considerably. And I can’t quite express (in words) how much I now disagree.

Perhaps a visual will help…. Nah.

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Cultural Relevance

“And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (Mark 13:1)”

After reading this I had a few thoughts.

How is it that we have a “disciple” of Jesus making such a remark? What has brought him to point out these buildings? It seems rather odd – rather out of the ordinary. Obviously Jesus probably saw them anyway. Why would a disciple of Jesus be making a point about these “wonderful stones” and “wonderful buildings”?

Well, we learn from other places in the scriptures that the Jews were thinking about things differently than we might expect. They didn’t know that the Christ would have to suffer and die, and that he would be taken back up to heaven before everything was said and done. No, rather they were looking for God’s kingdom to come in their day. They were looking for the promises to be fulfilled. That is why, after Christ fed the multitude, they tried to make him King. That is why, when he rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, they all shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the Highest!” But of course it wasn’t his time yet. And when asked by Pontius Pilot about this very thing, Christ answered that his kingdom is not of this world otherwise angels would come down from heaven.


Now the question is: do we today harbor this same sort of “kingdom-now” sentiment? I don’t know what was going on in the mind of this disciple, but I can try to imagine the possible scene. They’re all walking “out of the temple” he notices the great buildings (for no doubt they were probably quite impressive structures) and feels compelled to bring it to Christ’s attention, “Look.” He is already thinks they’re pretty important otherwise he wouldn’t have brought them up. After all, isn’t this what a lot of people would’ve been talking about anyway? Didn’t these “cultural artifacts” represent the issues of the day? Beyond perhaps connoting power, didn’t they mean quite a bit culturally? Of course they did. In one short word, they were relevant.

And he wanted to know what Jesus Christ thought about them. We go to the next verse for Christ response.

“And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Mark 13:2)”

How often are we guilty of the same very thoughts of “Kingdom Relevance”? After all, it was as they were leaving the temple (translate: still thinking about churchly/Christian things) that this came up. It was with an eye towards the Kingdom of God (it would seem) that these thoughts were entertained. Indeed, the thought might go: how else are we to advance the Kingdom? How else are we to make a difference in the world? How else are we to be relevant in our culture? And the answer is… These things will all be thrown down.

But in a different place he tells us, “On this rock I will build my Church.”

“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ (Isaiah 28:16)”

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone. (Psalm 118:22)

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