How culture can kill your Christianity.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

The context here is David and Saul, but the point I want to make is that God sees things differently than we do. While we obsess over external elements, God is concerned about our heart. Hebrews 8:10 reinforces this point when talking about the New Covenant, stating: “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

I don’t want anyone to miss the mark when it comes to pleasing God! I know that many sincerely desire to be the best Christians they can. So let’s consider the following:

#1- Culture’s impact on how we worship.

T.S. Elliot, in his book Christianity and Culture, states: “The first important assertion is that no culture has appeared or developed except together with a religion: According to the point of view of the observer the culture will appear to be the product of the religion, or the religion the product of the culture.” (p. 89) In other words, religion and culture are many times intertwined.

Some churches cling to the idea that baptism is not correct unless practiced like it was in Acts, i.e. done in a river. Some people adhere to a certain dress code, others a type of diet, while others still abstain from worldly affairs by not listening to secular music or watching movies. While I might not agree with all of these, I would concur that religion and culture are intertwined. Some distinctive that we follow in church are not always biblical, but cultural.

The distinctions might be subtle, yet the consequences are profound. Are we worshipping God biblically or culturally?

#2- What really matters to God?

Few would argue against fasting. The act of depriving our body for spiritual strength is seen as something that “warriors in the faith” do. However, in addressing this, God states in Isaiah 58:1-9 that it’s not so much the deprivation of food, but the pursuit of God to be the people he wants us to be.

The point is that God doesn’t care so much what we do… if we are not the people he wants us to be. It’s an external transformation through an internal regeneration. For our actions to matter, we need to have a relationship to Christ instead of just working for our own religious acts (see Matthew 7:21-23).

#3- The Holy Spirit

We believe in his power to change and lead us. Therefore it is imperative that we follow under his auspices as we progress in daily life. This is why prayer is so essential! God will never lead us to condemnation; he is in the business of doing great things in us and through us! Sometimes we must go against culture to please God. As long as we are pleasing God, that’s all that matters (see Galatians 1:10)

In addition, consider Paul’s words: And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. –Colossians 3:17

In the end, it is my belief that everything we do should be for Jesus. What matters to him is our heart and why we do what we do. Our work, our words, our actions, it’s all a possibility to demonstrate honor to God!