The Danger of Cultural Christianity
In what many call “The Bible Belt” and the American south we have a dangerous problem: cultural Christianity. What is that exactly? It’s actually hard to define. But the closest I can get is this: when people consider themselves Christians because of family heritage, good old-fashioned morals, right-wing politics, and/or church attendance. Cultural Christianity is when a society gives lip-service to Jesus, church, and the Bible and yet have not truly given him control of their lives. You can hear it in so many of today’s country songs that will speak of singing hymns and believing in Jesus in one verse and then of chasing girls and drinking beer in the next.
But the greatest danger of cultural Christianity is when people spend their whole lives believing they are on the road to heaven, when in fact they are not. This is exactly what Satan wants. And this is exactly what we don’t want.
In Luke 14:33 Jesus said, “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” In other words, Jesus has to be the most important thing in your whole life. To be a disciple means to treasure Christ above all things, even above the greatest of all southern idols: family. In Luke 14:26 Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” He said this not to encourage hatred, but as a figure of speech meant to show us the difference between the devotion we are to have to Christ versus the devotion we have to those most important to us here on earth.
Being a Christian means taking up your cross every day, denying yourself, and following Jesus (Luke 9:23). We are not saved because we think going to church and praying before meals is what good, wholesome, God-fearing people do. We are saved from our sins by faith in the blood of Jesus.
In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says there will be many who will face him on judgment day fully believing they are about to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But in actuality they will hear, “I never knew you. Depart from me.” This is exactly what Satan wants. And in the part of the world where we live he is accomplishing his goal through cultural Christianity.
I am amazed at how many times Jesus said things to those around him that made them turn away and stop following him. It was not because he did not want those people to be saved. It’s because the last thing he wants is for people to think they are saved when they are not. Jesus draws a line in the sand and says, “This is what following me is going to take. Count the cost. If you are willing, you are welcome. But I can’t and I won’t make this easier to swallow or less costly.”
Is your Christianity about taking up your cross daily and denying yourself to follow Christ? Do you treasure Christ above everything else? Is he the Lord of every part of your life? Be honest with yourself. Eternity is at stake.