In our last post, we explained what culture is and how we need to accept the challenge of Living Beyond Our Culture. We now understand that each of us may still be manifesting our personal or national culture in some areas of our thinking and/or behaviors. Also, we looked at how these two cultures can come into conflict with our Christ culture and the importance of consciously choosing which one we will reflect to the world around us.
Let’s take a look, now, at a few more cultural influences we may need to face and reflect on.
Family and upbringing
Our family culture is one of the areas we all need to examine in light of the Scripture. All of us were raised with certain taught behaviors and thought processes.
For example, some of us were, sadly, raised in homes that promoted prejudice against those that are different from us. As Christians, we have to learn to look at each person as a creation of God. They are valued and loved by the same Savior that loves us.
We, as ambassadors of a Christ-like culture need to reach out to all nations, and show them God’s unconditional love. Jesus came for the whole world, every human being of every nation and color. Prejudice should have no place in our Christ-based culture.
Whether it is prejudice or some other learned behavior, just think of the impact Christians could have on the world if each one of us could leave behind the negative aspects of our upbringing, and retain only the best parts of it. We could then seek to learn only the good that the Lord teaches us, thus leaving a better heritage for the generations to follow.
Letting go of religion should be an easy task for those who trust Christ as Savior. Religion is a set of rules, traditions, habits, rituals and mindsets. Religion is not the same as faith in Christ.
Faith-living is being filled with His Spirit. It is being led every day and in every moment by his Words and Holy Spirit power. This filling allows us to manifest our faith to others in a way that helps them to recognize the emptiness in their soul.
Having certain traditions in our Sunday services just because it’s always been done a certain way doesn’t automatically mean it is Christ-led or God’s will for us to do it.
But even if we do still cling to some old traditions, we can be filled with the Spirit as individuals even within the confines of religious practices. It would be wise though to sincerely examine everything we do in our churches in order to be sure it is what the Lord wants for us, and if it is for His glory or if it is just something we have always done. If visitors only see another version of religion and never have an encounter with a truly Spirit-filled, transformed Christian, why would they ever come back?
** Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. ** Galatians 5:1
Living in Cultural Liberty
Liberty is having the freedom to govern ourselves and not needing to have someone hover over us, watching our every move and controlling everything we do. It is choosing well. Liberty is freeing. We all have liberty in Christ and He gives us the power to use our liberty for good.
It’s important to understand that ‘independence’ and ‘liberty’ are not the same. We talked about ‘independence’ in Part 1 of Living Beyond our Culture. Independence is based on personal autonomy. (being free from others’ influence, assistance or support).
Liberty , especially Christian liberty, creates unity and community. Our liberty in Christ is about serving others and having a joyful spirit. Liberty draws people. Independence doesn’t need people.
Independence is limiting because we only depend on ourselves. We each have limited strength and knowledge. Standing alone actually makes us weaker. We accomplish much less when we are the only member of our team.
A healthy church community led by true liberty received from a Spirit-filled life is one where each of us is considerate of one another, serves one another, cares for one another and respects each other’s differences, and work together in harmony.
Liberty produces teamwork and cooperation. It produces the ‘dream church’.
Independence produces self-worship and isolation.
Paul’s View on Liberty
The Lord had Paul write an entire epistle to the Galatians about this mistaken viewpoint.
** For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. ** Galatians 5:5
Rules, traditions and micromanaging are self-righteous based practices. Trusting the work of Christ in every person is an act of faith and a gift of liberty to others.
We, as church leaders, and as individuals ought to examine ourselves to see if we are living and teaching a religion or if we are living the liberty that allows us to serve Christ and others. Are we serving with sincerity and in love and holiness?
Isaiah chapter 58 gives us more insight into liberty vs. religious culture.
Is it such a fast that I have chosen?
a day for a man to afflict his soul?
is it to bow down his head as a bulrush,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
wilt thou call this a fast,
and an acceptable day to the Lord?
Is not this the fast that I have chosen?
to loose the bands of wickedness,
to undo the heavy burdens,
and to let the oppressed go free,
and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry,
and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?
when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him;
and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Manifestation of the Spirit of God in us through Liberty
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning,
and thine health shall spring forth speedily:
and thy righteousness shall go before thee;
the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.
Has religious culture ever given this kind of light and liberty? Or is it only available through the transformation of the deepest parts of us by the Holiest of Holies?
Living Beyond Our Culture is a challenge each of us can do when we ask the Lord to show us where we are still living our old ‘world’ culture, even within our Christian practices.
** Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ** John 8:31,32
** If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. ** John 8:36
Religion or faith? Independence or liberty? Us or Christ? Which will we choose?