Gospel Fracture: "The Church and American Culture"

Today I was sitting in another extremely boring church administration class checking my twitter and stumbled upon a sermon from Gabe at Cat10 East. I slid my headphones into my sleeve and leaned against my hand to conceal the fact that I was listening to a sermon instead of listening to the "lecture". I got home tonight and watched the full sermon in its entirety again. Gabe has a few great points that just needed some more exposure. Today was the first free release of the full sermon. In here he touches on the idea that out of over six billion people on earth, and hundreds of different religions and belief systems, how can someone actually believe that they have the answer to all of life's problems? Now look I have been talking for some time about how globalization has created certain fractures in the American Culture's view and understanding of the Gospel. Most Americans don't want to be told that they are wrong about anything. It's not so much that we don't want to find that one correct certain answer, its the fact that we are unwilling to say that our neighbor's ideas are wrong. It's sort of like how in today's age we aren't allowed to cut children from sports teams or give them failing grades. Acceptance overrides the truth. It seems like our culture would rather put it's faith in a false hope and hurt no feelings than accept that sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes when you under-perform in school or aren't good enough at soccer to make the team, the best thing for you is to hear that. So since there are now more ideas and people thrown into the melting pot because of globalization, how do we actually navigate through what my professor described today as a glocal community. (see I was paying some attention, I have two ears you know!) Gabe says that there are two types of Christians, Separatists and Restorers. This brings us into the second fracture in American culture and the Gospel caused by globalization. Our culture has never been more aware and quite frankly has never responded better to the needs of the poor or sick or other social injustices in the world. This in itself is a great thing. The problem is that the close relationship that our church and American culture have had for centuries start to separate when it comes to this issue. We both believe that the we should help the needy, but our culture says do it without spreading the Gospel. This is where we get such programs that have popped up in schools like "social justice" degrees. Our culture is willing to accept that we are supposed to care about people and help them, but the term has changed from the Gospel to social justice. They took the Gospel's message of giving to those in need and stripped it of it's meaning. Now as long as socially things are fair, there is no work to be done here. Wait a minute the church says something different. The churches commission is to go and to make disciples of all nations, not to go and provide them with their worldly needs and leave. It is the modern day equivalent to Jesus coming to earth healing the sick and feeding the hungry but leaving out the best part, "an eternal life in relationship with God". Make no mistake about it, God does not intend for us to cure every disease in the world and end world hunger but forget that we are his children. Or let me put it in a way that post moderns can understand it. "What good is it for you to gain the whole world, yet lose your soul?" But the Gospel is about two things. The first thing is the "Good News" or the work of Christ. Prompted by the first aspect of the Gospel, we are called to go out into the world and restore the brokenness, feed the hungry heal the sick. The rift between our culture and our church can be viewed as a bad thing, but I would ask you today to view it as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to perform the second part of the Gospel story as a response to the first part. We don't have to remove ideas of Jesus from our ministry work, instead use the work of Jesus as a model to create your ministry. Change the language all you need to as long as you don't remove the meaning. Call it social justice as long as by social justice you mean justice in the name of Christ. I hope I didn't step on to many toes tonight! It was neat getting listen to this sermon in person, and to be able to reflect on it months later. You may notice that I have mentioned sermons from Catalyst Conference a few times now in my blog. I would suggest you find a way to make it this year down to Atlanta, or possibly even out to Catalyst West. Look that's all for this blog. Until next time - Just Jon

2 comments:

  1. Agree Jon. I what it comes down to is in the changing culture we have to work harder. In fact we simply have to work more like the first century church. When it came to helping people they had to help people and then maybe engage in Jesus talk. With Jesus ministry sometime the people healed weren't really the ones who got the Gospel. I think today's "justice" looks more like raising $5000 for something like Charity: water and building a well. Then taking a trip and sharing the gospel with the village, maybe writing them a letter. It makes not lazy. It seemed the way "Christian" charities used to be was "give us money we tell them about Jesus" That doesn't seem what we find in scripture. I wonder if God has brought this change to wake up sleeping lazy followers (like me) to go out and do His work instead of "supporting" His work. Great post.

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