Summary: Fourth message in a Summer Sunday series drawn from the book "Christianish" by Mark Steele
Summer Sunday Series
Part 4- Submission & the Christianish
A few weeks ago we kicked off this Summer Sunday Series by asking, “Are you Christianish?” And by Christianish we mean having the appearance of Christianity (in certain areas of your life), but not necessarily the substance of Christianity in your heart.
And we posed four big questions that you can ask yourself to help determine if you are Christianish:
• First, “Am I more concerned with being the kind of Christian others think I should be than I am with actually being like Jesus?”
• Next, “Have I compartmentalized my life to the extent that Who Jesus is affects part of my life, but leaves many areas essentially untouched?”
• Then, “Does my feeling of success as a Christian largely depend upon completing a checklist of rules and regulations?”
• And finally, “Do I think that by attending Sunday worship faithfully, paying tithe, and completing the checklist that I have fulfilled my Christian obligations?”
Then we learned that being Christianish doesn’t end well, and that it’s really important to measure our lives by the right standard, by the person of Jesus Christ.
Then we examined the concept of sin as it’s viewed by the Christianish, and we learned that though the Bible clearly teaches what sin is, that Christianish people take a different view.
We learned that most people think that there are certain big, bad, and terrible sins that should be avoided at all costs, but there are others that are other, smaller, socially acceptable sins. So, while the Big Six like adultery, fornication, homosexuality, abortion, denying the faith, and forsaking sound doctrine are to be avoided at all costs, we’ll practice the little ones with impunity. Little sins like pride & jealousy, gossip & backbiting, greed & materialism, lying & deception are seen as more acceptable, but they’re actually more dangerous. We’ll accept them and engage them and excuse them so readily because they seem like reasonable elements of real life…but they’ll destroy us.
Breaking out of the cycle of acceptable sin requires both the Word and the Spirit. We need to immerse ourselves in study of the Word, and not simply content ourselves with reading it. And we need the Holy Spirit to make that Word alive in our hearts and to empower us to represent Jesus in the world.
Then in the third message we continued by taking a look at the subject of Sacrifice & the Christianish. We learned that sacrifice is about loss, not gain...sacrifices and investments aren’t the same thing. And, we learned that the Bible teaches that sacrifice is about life, it has to be the best that you have to give, and it will hurt...sacrifice is costly. We discovered that from looking at the New Testament, it costs something to follow Jesus...and if following Jesus hasn’t cost you something, you’re probably not really following Him.
Today we’re going to be finishing up what has proven to be just an incredibly popular and widely acclaimed series by talking about Submission & the Christianish.
I. Culture & Ideas
We’re going to lay a little groundwork for this message by making the observation that as Christians in the world, we are both influencers and influenced. We don’t live in isolation from the ideas and systems of thought that are prevalent in the world, and whether we like to admit it or not, the world’s ideas affect the way we think about the Faith. This isn’t in itself a bad thing, but it can be…especially when an idea presented in the Bible is interpreted and applied using the world’s definition of the idea. (Which is why we’ve talked quite a bit about something called exegesis…or “understanding what it meant to them so that we can figure out how to apply it now.”)
So, the Church not only influences the culture, it’s also influenced by the culture. We can’t help it. It’s always been this way, and always will be. If you’re unsure, just think about the many different cultures that are represented at The Refuge, and how that in each of them certain cultural ideas affect the way saints view the Church, the way they think about the Church. While certain core elements of the Faith may remain the same, the expression of Christian life may be very different in each of these cultures. As Christians, part of our responsibility is to recognize and then carefully examine the ideas influencing us to see if that influence moves us closer to what God wants His Church to be, or farther away.
There’s one example of a cultural idea influencing the way Christians think about the Faith that’s particularly relevant to the North American church, and it’s the idea of freedom. In North American culture, the concept of freedom essentially means that each person determines his or her own destiny, and has a great number of personal rights guaranteed by government. Self-determination and constitutionally guaranteed rights & freedoms are powerful ideas in the West. So, whenever anyone in the West talks about “freedom”, our minds almost immediately default to thoughts of self-determination and individual rights.