News and Views
Christianity and Culture #3
standing and relationship with Him, and having tried to consider how our culture also has a distorted view of humanity that also affects our perceptions of people and their relationship to God, it is time to turn our attention to the way our culture views Jesus Christ and how that influences our understanding and relationship with Him.
I think that it is quite safe to make two broad generalizations about Jesus and popular culture in our country today. First, that the name of Jesus Christ is most frequently used and heard as an expletive. Secondly, that in most parts of the country, the vast majority of people have no idea as to what genuine Christianity really is. (This last may be less true in this local area which continues to maintain much of its long standing heritage as part of Alberta's Bible Belt.)
I saw us become a post-Christian culture in the 1960s, and watched as the infamous Pierre Elliot Trudeau solidified atheistic humanism as the foundational belief system of a secular culture. In this secular culture and secular media, Jesus is generally dismissed as just another of the great religious teachers with ideas very similar to Socrates, Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, etc. Of this practice of relegating Jesus to being just a great man, C.S. Lewis wrote, "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (from "Mere Christianity")
There have also been some unsuccessful "scholarly" attempts to deny that Jesus ever really lived. However, Jesus, God the Son, did humble Himself to be born as a human baby, did live a perfect human life in which His will was constantly aligned with the will of God the Father, did take the weight of our rebellion and sin upon Himself as He died on the cross in our place, did rise again to prove the truth of all His claims, and did it all so that we may be forgiven and restored to relationship with God for all eternity. This message is often not welcome in our culture, but everyone who accepts it, who accepts justification through Jesus Christ, knows that it is a true message, knows the indwelling life of the Holy Spirit, knows the delight of adoption into the family of God. Christian faith and life is a combination of believing the written Word of God, experiencing restoration through Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, and living with joy in that relationship in a way that seeks to bring pleasure and glory to our beloved God.
Paul wrote, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.....For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." ( 1 Cor. 1:18 & 25 NIV) Paul wrote more than two thousand years ago, but it is just as true, just as applicable today, as we live in a culture that dismisses faith in God as foolish and exalts human intellect to the result of its own destruction. God does not change, and His love and justice, best seen on the cross, do not change, no matter how cultures come and go and change.
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