Jesus Revolution By Greg Laurie And Ellen Vaughn

Day 4 of 7 • This day’s reading


Day Four

Burying Cultural Christianity

Scripture: James 1:27

In October 1967, hard-core hippies of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury conducted a mock “funeral for the hippie.” The funeral was an ironic rejection of the commercialization that had taken over their movement. 

Half century later, maybe it’s time for Christians to conduct a similar funeral. It would be a burial of what we might call enculturated Christianity, a blending of commercial and consumer values with the gospel we once embraced on its own. Maybe it’s time to bring the Jesus Revolution back to where we live. 

What would funerals of enculturated Christianity look like? The answers are as varied as the hundreds of thousands of churches across America. Maybe we should solemnly carry coffins up the aisles of our churches, or place them on the stages of our worship centers, and fill them with the stuff we’ve attached to our understanding and practice of Christianity, stuff that is just not part of the gospel.

Most of the ugly coffin space would be needed for attitudes and habits of the heart. It might be a set of prejudices that have nothing to do with the radical realities that Jesus taught and demonstrated. It might be a condemning attitude toward outsiders. It might be the assumption that God wants us to be materially wealthy, healthy, safe, and comfortable. The point is, each of us has idols that come from the culture, idols that we incorporate in our nice religious experience.

There are regions where faith becomes “churchianity,” woven with social standing, family heritage, and cultural expectations. There’s politicized faith of every kind, which blurs and distorts a biblical understanding of the kingdoms of this world and the mysterious and transcendent ways of the kingdom of God.

In some megachurches today, such accoutrements as smoke machines, slick production values, lattes in the lobby, and sermons designed for short attention spans take precedence over the transformational power of the Word of God. It’s devilishly easy for market preferences to shape the message itself, sublimating the radical, absolute, and ancient distinctives that make the church the church. It’s so easy to lower our standards in order to extend our reach. 

If we produce consumers instead of communers, we end up with customers instead of disciples. This can create a whole new category of people: evangelized nonbelievers, or people who think they are Christians when they aren’t.

In what specific ways has your faith been influenced by culture?  How can you more radically follow Jesus, rather than just comfortable religious practices?