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Stumbling Blocks

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Church and culture

Being a Christian in our modern world is undoubtedly a challenging way to live. By choosing God’s ways, we are saying ‘no’ to many others. Sometimes this leads us to a few dilemmas concerning our position as Christians in society. An example of this is whenever we take a stand for our faith; we are saying that we are different to all other faiths. This exclusive claim of Christianity is difficult to maintain due to the nature of our modern society which promulgates a culture of postmodern thought and relativism; all religions can or probably does lead to God.

Foolishness

What can a person gain from being a Christian in our modern society?

If you recognise that the traditional Trinitarian God is the one true god, or that He is holy, you are in essence sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the many fingers of society. You cause an offence to those who do not agree with what you believe. But is this to be unexpected?

St. Paul writes to the church in Corinth, Greece: 1 Corinthians 1:21-27 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

As you can see, our choice to be Christian is considered as wisdom of God by Scripture, yet denounced as foolishness of men of the world. That being said, St. Paul makes it clear that it is this the way of God, using weak or foolish things to shame the wise and the strong. Clarifying this point, these things that the world considers weak include humility, grace, mercy, gentleness, and other fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is foolishness not because these things themselves are foolish, but that these things are contrary to the ways of the world. Thus to the world, it is a weak, foolish, and unnecessary thing to seek grace, to seek forgiveness, and to humble ourselves before God.

Sin?

Recognising sin and seeking forgiveness is like the manual transmission to the modern world. Most don’t understand or know it, and the few that do are considered to be enthusiasts. Christians are like these few who are enthusiasts. Our tradition or doctrines of confession and forgiveness of sins are considered to be outdated and outmoded by more evolved and less alarming notions. Sadly, a significant number of modern churches like megachurches seldom focus on the need for forgiveness, or the seriousness of sin. These are considered medieval and ancient in light of our role as champions of social justice and loving our neighbour. Whilst the latter are very important, more important is that we understand our place before God.

Sadly, a significant number of modern churches like megachurches seldom focus on the need for forgiveness, or the seriousness of sin. These are considered medieval and ancient in light of our role as champions of social justice and loving our neighbour. Whilst the latter are very important, more important is that we understand our place before God.

In love, we must speak the truth with gentleness and respect. If we are ever tempted to water down our Gospel in fear of offending someone, just remember that God may bear your offense by you not being honest and faithful to Him and your hearers. Modern Christianity has lost the lustre and strength that Christ gave to his apostles and their successors; a clear sense of God, truth, and morality.

That being said, I myself am not immune to the effects of this. Christ Himself can explain why Christianity has been so affected: Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Thus, according to our Lord, even the church can be laid to the wayside if we fail to remain faithful in doctrine and practice to the One who gave us life.

Worth the cost?

The big question that hangs over all this is: Is there a God? If so, how can we know?

There is only one sure way we can know, and that is through Jesus Christ, who not only made claims of being the Messiah, the King, and God Himself, he followed through on his claims by offering himself up as a sacrifice for sins on a Roman cross, and more importantly, rising from the dead and ascending to heaven. Historians do not contest his existence, nor his crucifixion, yet the debate by skeptics regarding the validity of his resurrection has rekindled the same fire in modern times as it had during the Roman Empire when Christianity was but an infant. If the claims are true, then it matters to all, because the Gospel speaks to the souls of mankind not just to minds and hearts; not only to bless and challenge you, but to transform you to be holy as God is.

 

This guest post was written by Jack Liang, a Commerce & Arts student at Macquarie University.

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