This article was written for The Chilliwack Times, July 4th, 2016 edition.
I’ll let you in on a little secret (if you hadn’t noticed already). Christians have their own sub-culture.
We have our own schools, bookstores, radio stations, bumper stickers, and dating websites. We have our own Christian Rock Bands (yes, I know this sounds like an oxymoron).
We even have an ever-expanding language of our own called Christianese. It consists of biblical words like fellowship, worship, sin, saved, kingdom, and disciple. It also includes phrases like, getting into the Word, laying out a fleece, doing life together, and being missional.
This jargon and sub-culture can be confusing, and in some cases a total turn-off to Christianity. But even though there are some confusing things about Christians and the churches they are a part of, don’t let that scare you away. These things are the byproduct of a people committed to their faith in Jesus. They have encountered Jesus in such a life-changing way that every aspect of their lives are impacted.
Perhaps you’ve witnessed them raising their hands up towards the heavens as they sing songs at church or stretch their hands out towards someone being prayed for on the stage. Perhaps you’ve experienced the gift of free food, clothing, and shelter from a church ministry with no strings attached. Perhaps you’ve come across views on marriage and family that seem archaic and narrow.
The reason I ask you not to let those things scare you away is because underneath it all there is a God who makes Himself known to the world in the person and work of Jesus Christ. I encourage you to get close enough to a Christian and a church to encounter this life-changing Saviour, you may just come to see what all the periphery stuff is about.
"The reason I ask you not to let those things scare you away is because underneath it all there is a God who makes Himself known to the world in the person and work of Jesus Christ."
To those reading this who are followers of Jesus (another term for Christians), I would encourage you not to let sub-cultural Christianity obscure Christ. In other words, much of what we do can be so confusing to those unfamiliar with the faith that Jesus becomes inaccessible to them. The Apostle Paul (who wrote a lot of the New Testament) declared, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Meaning, he worked at being understandable to the people in their cultures rather than expect them to understand his in order to effectively reach them with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
"Much of what we do can be so confusing to those unfamiliar with the faith that Jesus becomes inaccessible to them."
Lets use a home as an analogy for this. The terminology, the music, the views, the moral expectations, should not be the front porch. Jesus should be. Jesus should be the front porch and the whole house! The saving grace of Jesus: the foundation. The wonderful doctrines of the faith: the furniture. And the sub-cultural elements? Those should be the trinkets in the house, cute little things that give the home some quirky personality. Like a Kiss-The-Chef apron, a scentsy warmer, and a lava lamp.
"Lets make sure that we don’t come off like an episode of hoarders, where the trinkets obscure the beautiful home to the detriment of our guests."
Christianity really is a culture within a culture and that is a beautiful thing. We believe that Jesus changes everything, including the way we live. Lets just make sure that we don’t come off like an episode of hoarders, where the trinkets obscure the beautiful home to the detriment of our guests.