Culture affects Christianity

Ever since I was a boy, I realized there were some cultural differences in the Church.  Supposedly the same church, the same doctrine, but total opposites on some issues.

50 years ago, Baptist was synonomous with “Tea Totalers”.  No alcohol… zero.  It was not up for debate.  Then our high school had a foriegn exchange student from France.  This girl was from a French Baptist family.  Wine was consumed by everyone.  Next a boy from Germany… and ale or beer was commonly consumed. 

As a teen I was faced with a real cultural difference. 

Now the purpose of this devotion is not to debate alcohol.  But alcohol does show a tremendous cultural bias in our Christian beliefs and our walk.

What prompted today’s devotion was a picture I saw with one of those inspirational sayings.  It said, “God is Our Shield in Times of Trouble.” 

And i got to thinking while I was creating a picture timeline of the political riots in Kenya several years ago.  I have pictures of th displaced persons walking with all their belongings, pictures of the camps, and pictures 6 years later of the tattered tents. 

I was remembering how many thousands lost their lives in the violence.  And I remember my brother telling of elderly dying from harsh conditions. It is so easy to hang a cute inspirational poster in our homes when all is going well.  But how about the Christians in persecuted countries?

Just a few weeks ago we heard of much violence against Christians and churches as bombs went off.  The news media really played it up.  But just last week in a remote village 150 were slaughtered and no mention. Where was their shield either time?

There are hundreds of these motivation pictures that reflect more culture than Christ.  The are feel-good sayings, that really don’t stand up to close scrutiny by the scriptures.  Some even quote a Scripture verse or part of one. 

My favorite example was one I saw quoting a verse from the book of Job. 

The verse was Job 36:11… If they obey and serve him, (God) they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures

This was presented as a promise of God. A promise to the believer. But upon closer study, I am not sure this is a quote we should hang onto. Why? Keep reading.

[  ] Job Chapter 36 (Elihu Extols God’s Greatness)  “Bear with me a little, and I will show you, for I have yet something to say on God’s behalf. I will get my knowledge from afar and ascribe righteousness to my Maker.   For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you. … If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures

Now read what God has to say about the “Wisdom” found in the previous chapter.

Job Chapter 37  “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”

 God Himself said that Job 36:11 was words without knowledge! I don’t really think I want to make that one of my memory verses! I don’t think that the idea or truth of Job 36:11 is one I want to put into my belief system.

We need to be careful when we accept scripture quotes. Often they are taken out of context and/or omit a significant part, that when included, offers a totally different meaning. Yes they sound good, but are they really what God meant?

The same way we need to examine our Christian Beliefs and Lifestyles to see what has been tainted or colored by our cultural background. 

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

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