Moderate Culture or Kingdom Culture?

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Series: Other Speakers

Sun am 19 May 2013 – Justus Swart

Rom. 1:21; Rev. 3:14-22; Luke 10:38-42

C. S. Lewis said, “Christianity if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is of moderate importance”. Do you agree with this? If, yes, then do you as individual live this way? Only you can answer this question truthfully. There are two potential cultures that emerge in the Church, since there are obviously none in the Church that believe Christianity is of no importance. The first is one of moderate culture and one of kingdom culture; those who see Christianity as moderately important, and the second is those who see it as infinitely important. Moderate in this context is negative; to be average in amount and intensity, quality or degree – this is by no means a positive statement; to be half committed, to be average, to be in the middle. Moderate culture is a subtle attack on the identity of the Church. It is a slow decay of the once clear and tangible expression of our faith; something that slowly takes away the sharp edge that you have to Christianity, removing the intensity. There are many characteristics of moderate culture that have become acceptable in modern church circles. The first of these is to view the Church in competing for your time. Does the Church have to advertise itself in such a way to pull you in?  Do you have to protect yourself from the Church trying to steal your time and infringing on that which is yours? Is that the way that you see it? Moderate culture thrives in its ability to excuse itself and not to be somewhere when it is needed. It is a champion in dodging commitment and responsibility.

Aspects of moderate culture:

  1. Is the church in competition for your time?
  2. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened (Rom. 1:21). Moderate culture is content with grey areas; knowing but not doing. The disconnection between their knowledge and their deeds does not bother them. Judging people by a standard with which they do not judge themselves.
  3. Conditional commitment. “This will be my church as long as no-one does anything I do not like.” “My commitment to the church remains as long as you meet my needs. Then I will be faithful and serve you. As long as you do not infringe on anything that is mine, we are okay.”

We are influenced to believe that when a church no longer meets our expectations, we have a right to leave. You need to stick together and go through things as a community. You have to give up your right to judge people. If you leave you become part of the problem.

With conditional commitment comes a tendency to shy away from conflict or any disciplinary issues. There is a major difference between you offering yourself and the need to advertise for positions that need filling. It is a sense of being drawn into and not being dragged into. If you are not committed to the church it is impossible to come under fathering grace. Fathering grace comes to lead, to discipline and to provide. So if you are not committed to the house, how are you going to respond to anything of conflicting nature or a disciplinary issue? You will not stay because you have not committed yourself to the vision and to the house. Ultimately it makes it difficult to accept the final decision that was contrary to what you were expecting. These are character traits of a moderate culture. All these traits bring about a false sense of entitlement, primarily based on “me”.

Let us consider God’s perspective on this:

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:  ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

He is not very tolerant of moderate culture. There is no middle ground. The original word for “spit you out” is “vomit”. It is a term of disgust. Nobody likes drinking lukewarm water. There are a lot of excuses in these verses, self-elevation, self-righteousness, not needing anything, thinking you have acquired wealth. God says, “You have nothing!”

We are offered a different type of culture; a kingdom culture. Moderate culture has many defining points, but kingdom culture has only one defining point, and that is Jesus. Moderate culture always wants to complicate and agitate simplicity, but the kingdom culture however, exists only in the presence of truth. Moderate culture lives in the grey areas. We like to crowd and complicate an area so we can hide there and stay there, so we can never say we are in one camp or the other.

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42). This is a beautiful picture of priorities. Mary was not doing it out of spite or carelessness; she realised in that moment what was important – Jesus had come to their house and it was time to be still before Him. Sometimes we are so distracted by things, that we have not even considered taking the time to draw away from all of it. It is easier to fool others and even ourselves that everything is fine as long as you can stay distracted. Those who live within moderate culture, coming before God with a quiet heart is the single most difficult thing. Why? God is never satisfied with only half of your attention; He will always want more. To come before God in that quiet space is so difficult because you may not be willing to give in, so you stay away from that presence. When you are hiding from God and you do not want to give everything at that moment; to come to church and clear your mind and heart is probably the most difficult thing to do. You can keep busy and clutter your mind with distractions and worries, and your heart can be full of unrest, but you can look fine. You are not able to come into the presence of God because you know He wants more from you.

The point is to look inside yourself and say, “Is this me? Do I have clutter in my life that stops me from being able to approach God? Do I feel uncomfortable when I come into silence before God?” Do not leave this place without removing that from your life. Do not leave without coming before God and saying “I am sorry that I have been distant.” God is never the One who is distant. He is always there ready to accept you but He is never satisfied, He is the jealous God. He wants more of you, He wants all of you! Today we are making a change, we are giving Him everything.