Monday, October 04, 2010

Cultural Christianity

Cultural Christianity

"While sitting on the bank of a river one day, I picked up a solid round stone from the water and broke it open. It was perfectly dry in spite of the fact that it had been immersed in water for centuries. The same is true of many people in the Western world. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity; they live immersed in the waters of its benefits. And yet it has not penetrated their hearts; they do not love it. The fault is not in Christianity, but in men's hearts, which have been hardened by materialism and intellectualism." Sadhu Sundar Singh - Indian Evangelist and Thinker.

Does this observation ring true where you live? If it does you must live in a culture where Christian thought and values once thrived and benefited you. You should thank God for having lived "immersed in the waters of its benefits". I lived immersed in its benefits as a child growing up in the USA in the 1950s. I thank God I did. It has been hard to see the water of its benefits drying up in the last 50 years.

Even so, I can attest to the fact that much of that external Christian culture I grew up in never reached the hearts of those who enjoyed it. It was outside/in Christianity for most people and not the real inside/out Christianity. There is an enormous difference between being immersed in the benefits of Christian culture that surrounds us and having a spring of living Christian water inside us.

Jesus explained the difference to a Samaritan woman who certainly did not live immersed in a supportive benefits of a Christian culture.

"Jesus answered and said to her, 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.'" John 4:13-14

External Christian cultures have a way of drying up over time when the inner flow of this living fountain is diminishing in the masses of people. People who fight to sustain the benefits of Christian culture are well intentioned, but missing the difference between outside and inside Christianity. If they want to help others enjoy "immersion in the waters of its (Christianity's) benefits" they should abide in Jesus from the inside/out and lead as many as they can to do the same.

Whatever genuine Christian influence that actually makes it to the outside culture had to have begun from the inside of thousands of lives where Jesus dwells. We need to multiply inner fountains to restore external rivers of influence. When a river suddenly goes dry we must go back to the source that created the flow. Screaming at the diminishing flow will do little good.

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