Rebel with a Cause

Cultural Christianity. This is a term I’ve read on a blog (or two) recently. And, it seems to perfectly describe what I’m trying to get away from.

I read a quote on John Piper’s blog, the other day, that said:

“I was afraid to admit my struggles for fear I’d be given yet another suggestion of something to try, advice that means well, but reinforces that my circumstances are unacceptable, and I need to do whatever I can to change them.”

Much as Christians often mean well with their advice, a lot of times it comes off — to me, anyway — as a judgment on my circumstances. My life has never been “acceptable” in the cultural Christian circles. I don’t fit. I’m a square peg, and they’re a round hole.

I’ve always been one to question, to think outside of the box. And, they don’t like that. They want all to conform to the standard and if you don’t, you’re seen as a “black sheep”, or as someone who is backslidden in their faith. You must not love God because you’re not obeying… us.

I honestly (now) believe that the reason I’ve had so much trouble with churches is because God has allowed me to step back and see the truth… that the church is not what He intended (intends) it to be; that it’s in need of a revolution.

I like the Harris brothers’ term for it: Rebelution.

If my unwillingness to conform to “cultural Christianity” makes me a rebel, so be it! This — if you ask me — isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This type of Christian rebel isn’t sin. It’s taking a stand FOR Jesus, for the Way that Jesus, Himself, taught us to live.

I was listening to one of Russell Moore’s “The Cross & the Jukebox” podcasts, last week, and it talked about individualism vs. community. While I know that Christianity is all about community — God made us for relationship, after all — I also kind of like the idea of individuality. Not in the sense of isolating yourself from others, or going it alone… that would be contrary to what the Bible calls us to, and therefore a sin. But, individuality in the sense that we are not all conforming and losing our God-given uniqueness.

Sometimes I think the church is trying to form a collective. “You must do this + this + this, or else you aren’t a Christian“.

I don’t want to be a robot. I don’t want to be like everybody else. I want to be ME, with all of my quirks and flaws.

I want to help others to see the truth of how God intended Christianity to really be. Not that I know it all, mind you. I’ve only had a tiny glimpse, so far. But it’s enough to have lit a spark in me… enough to have made me want to chase after this with all I’ve got…

…even if it means I risk being ostracized for being different; even if I’m labelled a “rebel”. 😉

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Read ‘n Respond: “Pagan Christianity?” by Frank Viola & George Barna

paganchristianity_frankviola_georgebarnaI’m currently reading a book called “Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices” by Frank Viola & George Barna. And, while it’s a really interesting book, with a lot of good points, I’m a bit disturbed by some of the things they’re saying. My internal warning bells are going off, big time.

For example…

On page 116, the authors write, “The non-New Testament concept of sacerdotalism — the belief that there exists a divinely appointed person to mediate between God and the people — originated with Cyprian [of Carthage].

But, I beg to differ! In the Old Testament, God did appoint mediators… He gave the Israelites the high priests that were the go-betweens between God & His people. They were the ones who entered the Holy of Holies at specific times to make atonement for the peoples’ sins (see Leviticus 16:1-34). Moses was also a mediator between God and His people. He was the only one allowed to go up the mountain to meet with God, and receive instruction (see Exodus 19).

Originally, I also had issue with the fact that the authors were claiming that the church building was something we shouldn’t have. I thought, “But we’re to meet together with other believers (Heb.10:25), so we need a place to gather“. But, then they clarified that the church’s architecture is made to elicit a response… it teaches us “what the church is, and how it functions” (p.37).

And, their talk about how a pastor is a hinderance also got up my ire. They claim that there’s no mention of a pastor in the Bible. And, I thought, “But it does talk about shepherding God’s people, and leadership. (see 1 Timothy 3 and Ezekiel 34:1-10).” But, then I realized that, even though it talks about shepherds leading God’s people, that also could mean anyone in the church who is gifted with leadership. And the authors then clarified that “shepherds” refers to people who have a natural talent for nurturing and caring for God’s people.

So, I don’t know… I’m still reading this book with a spirit of discernment, and I’m taking it with a grain of salt. I’m thinking that I will take what I love from this book, and then just disregard the rest.

There’s a lot of it that I do agree with, mind you. Like how the authors say that our fixed pews and our stage make it seem like we church-goers are passive spectators on Sunday mornings, and the pastor is providing the “entertainment”. They talk about how –in an organic/home-church– the members would all be able to contribute to the sharing of God’s Word. Whoever feels led to share a word they’ve received could do so. And, everyone would be able to look their fellow members in the eyes easily… not having to strain around to see behind them in a pew.

I also agree that the word “church” should refer not to a building, but to all of God’s people. That’s how it’s meant in the Bible, after all. The Greek word is “ekklesia“, meaning “a gathering of believers“.

More thoughts to come as I continue reading… 😉