Faith Matters - Current Posts

Friday, September 14, 2007

Confusing Faith and Culture

Throughout history Christians have often made the mistake of confusing faith and culture. Just because we do things a certain way in our culture, doesn’t make them biblical, Christian or right. It’s a mistake to try and super-impose Western culture in the name of bringing the gospel of Jesus.
Historically we have taken non-Christian symbols and activities and Christianized them. One is the Roman cross. We have taken what was a symbol of hatred, pain and condemnation and turned it into a symbol of hope, love and eternal life. The German Yule tree has been renamed a Christmas tree and the celebration of the winter solstice has been replaced by the celebration of the birth of Jesus in the third week of December. We refer to the hymns written by John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist church, as traditional Christian music. We forget that the Wesleys used the contemporary music of their day. They wrote Christian lyrics for the tunes that were popular in the pubs of England.
Christian missionaries have sometimes gone to other cultures and insisted that they dress the way that we dress; sit in chairs as we do; gather together for worship on Sunday morning as we do and worship with our kind of music. None of that is biblical. It has nothing to do with true worship. What matters is bringing people to the point of trusting in the one true God – and in Jesus Christ, his only son, who came into this world to save sinners from every culture.

Related Scripture: John 3:16-21

© 2007 Leith Anderson

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Misled by a Bumper Sticker

A police officer pulled over a car and asked the driver to show his license and registration. The driver was obviously taken back because he said, “Officer, I didn’t go through a stop sign, I didn’t run a red light. I’ve actually been driving under the speed limit.”
The police officer said “What you say is true, but I’ve been following you. I saw you wave your fist at that lady in the left lane who wouldn’t get out of your way. And then when that Hummer cut you off, I was close enough to see how red your face turned. You were really flushed. I couldn’t understand the words you were saying but it appeared that they were pretty explosive. And then, back at the exit when the traffic was all backed up, I could see you pounding on the wheel. So I decided to pull you over.”
The man said “Wait a minute. Since when are any of those things crimes?” The police officer replied, “There’re not – but when I noticed the bumper sticker on your car that says ‘JESUS LOVES YOU AND SO DO I,’ I figured this had to be a stolen car.”
What’s my point with this story? Some of us are not what we claim to be. We pretend to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ when, in reality, we’re hypocrites. Let us examine ourselves to make sure that we are living in a way that honors Jesus in all that we say and do. Jesus calls us to walk in integrity.

Related Scripture: 2 John 6 & Titus 2:7

© 2007 Leith Anderson

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Two Largest Religions

In the 18th and 19th centuries the world issues were exploration, conquest and colonialism. Side effects were commerce, slavery and a multitude of wars. In the 20th century, the world issues were Communism and Totalitarianism vs. Capitalism and Democracy. The century was a ferocious battlefield for land, bodies, minds and souls.
It appears that the world issue for the 21st century is religion. Around the globe there is fierce competition for the religious allegiance of our souls. What happened in America on September 11, 2001 was not the cause, but an effect of the religious competition that is sweeping the globe. It made Americans more interested in Islam than ever before.
Christianity and Islam are the world's two largest religions, together making up about half of the world’s population. Both are multi-national, evangelistic, and growing very rapidly.
In America we are mostly Christian. We belong to different branches of Christianity with names like Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist or Methodist; but the rest of the world lumps us together under the broad title of “Christian.”
With the Muslim population in the United States steadily growing, we are very aware of Muslims. Public opinion ranges from seeing Islam as a religion that is equal to and as acceptable as Christianity, to a well-known leader describing Islam as an “evil and wicked religion.”
So, what’s a Christian to do? Just be yourself! As a devoted follower of Jesus, see Muslims as potential friends rather than as enemies. Treat Muslims as you would treat any one else – with the love and kindness of Jesus Christ.

Related Scripture: 2 Peter 1:6-7 & Galations 6:10

© 2007 Leith Anderson