Before I begin I think it’s necessary to establish the framework from which I write, and the reason I’m writing at all.
I’m writing because I see lost men and women searching desperately for life, compromising in that desperation and finding emptiness and misery; and most of those who call themselves the Church have responded irresponsibly, either emphasizing the superficial or condoning and celebrating the very corruption that is at the root of said misery. My heart is heavy for these men and women, I want for them to know hope and life and freedom from a life enslaved to corruption.
If you are reading this and you are in that state of misery, desperately seeking life and you deny your need for Christ, our conversation can only begin there. I pray that you do come to embrace the Gospel: recognizing that your standard is flawed and you will fail as your own god; and embrace Jesus as Lord and thus find true peace and redemption in his grace. Because on our own we fail, we cannot be good people, our standard is relative, full of hypocrisy and holes; but the good news of the Gospel is that Christ comes to the hypocrite, the prostitute, the liar, the thief and the murderer where we are and offers freedom from the misery of pride and corruption and reunites us with the God who loves us and created us to be in relationship with him. Christ accomplished God’s perfect standard for us because we can’t, and he gives us a clean slate, free of our corrupt pasts with the promise of a future and a hope. That is my prayer for you, and really that is the only discussion I want to have with you, because it is, in fact the meaning of our human existence, and until you are under Christ’s authority, there is no addressing anything else. My message to you, is one of hope, that as you desperately search for life, it can be found in Christ, when corrupted pride is relinquished and Christ’s love is accepted.
But to you, Christians, those who claim the name of Christ, my message is one of warning. Christ has given us his integrity, his name, but we have compromised it and in so doing we are condemning others . By compromising God’s standard, ignoring, indulging and even celebrating corruption we do not really embrace the Gospel at all. Any condonation of sin is a rejection of Christ; he died a bloody, horrific death for that sin, to free us from it. To condone corruption, to justify it as right, natural or even inescapable is to deem his death unnecessary. We have lowered God’s standard to make it achievable by humanity, by lowering it we announce that there is no standard at all, only an arbitrary, relativity that moves with the winds of culture. But God’s standard is perfect, unyielding and transcends culture and time, we know this from Scripture; it is perfect and we cannot attain it. But Christ did and he grants that perfection to us, to continue unrepentant in corruption, proclaiming it to be no corruption at all is a denial of that gift, a denial of Christ.
We have caved under the pressure of culture, and thus we have plunged it deeper into condemnation, nullifying Christ and deceiving a nation of people that they don’t need God, and thus further enslaving ourselves and others. If we truly love people we cannot continue to condone corruption, we can neither encourage nor stand idly by as they rush head-long in to hell, denying corruption and thus Christ and separating themselves from the God who loves them. If we love people we must direct them to God: the source of love and life. We must stand unflinching as our nation chooses whatever it will, God’s standard does not change and we must stop pretending that it does. It is both prideful and illogical to claim Christ and yet deny any part of Scripture in the name of cultural relevancy; because God addresses all cultures, Jesus was not culturally relevant; God, his people, and Christ–God in flesh–have always stood counter-culturally bringing a message of hope that defies every single culture and relative, inferior standard it encounters. To claim anything else in the name of Christ is false, a crime against God and humanity and ontologically preposterous.
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me [Paul] is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (emphasis added)
If we change any aspect of God’s standard we not only nullify Christ and widen the gap between us and God, but we further enslave our brothers and sisters, making light of corruption and deceiving them into thinking they do not need God, that their corruption is good, that his word can be twisted to fit our desires. If we truly love people we cannot continue to condone the very things that cause them misery. Cultural relevance is relative, cowardly and ultimately condemning. Christ did not come to culture but to humanity (to every culture that exists past, present and future) to seek the lost and to bring life to those who are enslaved to corruption. To say anything less is a lie.
Can you elaborate on what you mean when you say that “Jesus was not culturally relevant”? Because he was a part of the culture he was born, lived, and died in, and if we are going to stand by his full humanity as well as his full divinity, we have to accept that that culture, which as you rightly point out was as imperfect as our own, would have effected him and the way he viewed the world.
Good question, Sarah. When I use the term “cultural relevance” I am referring to the current use; in which it is used to term Jesus’ statements (and Scripture as a whole) as inapplicable to the present time and culture. I do agree that he was born, lived, died and rose again in a culture different than our own, but I do not agree that it necessarily impacted how he viewed the world. What I mean by that is that while he was part of a culture as fully human, he is also fully God, meaning he has a view of the world that transcends any culture, and thus his words address a larger spectrum than the period of time he came. I agree that there is cultural context to his words, and by understanding that context we can understand his words to a greater depth, but the timelessness and application remains.
Thanks for your comment!