Wretched
9/5/13 at 02:59 PM 0 Comments

The Dignity of Christianity, Part 1

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Photo: Flickr/Pop Culture Geek - Creative Commons

Ugh:

17 year old Boy Scouts attracted to 14 year old boys can now share a tent. What could possibly go wrong?

The Hub Networks latest cartoon aimed at 2-12 year olds is about a guy named Guy who finds a super-power ring. He puts it on and becomes a female crime-fighter named She-Zow. Who is most upset by this? Transgendered people who do not feel this is a good representation of them.

A woman in San Francisco recently married a building in an effort to save it from demolition. She called it a lesbian wedding because she claims the building is female. Guess who is mad? You got it, lesbians. They think this opens them up to ridicule. Um, yeah.

Do we need more evidence that we are living in a post-Christian world?

The Brilliance of the Bible

Unlike the Koran, the Bible is not stuck in a particular century. The Koran gives very explicit rules for all people for all times based on the culture of the 7th century; hence, the burka. The Bible is far more sophisticated.

The Bile presents historical biographies, theology, proverbs and letters to specific people and then asks the reader to apply those truths to their particular context. Brilliant! But that does not mean it is easy. The Christian must take an ancient book and learn the context in which it was written and then rightly apply the truths presented in our century without understanding the text differently than the original audience.

Let’s go to Ephesus

Paul labored longer in the city of Ephesus than any other location. While Ephesus was perhaps not as debauched as Corinth, it certainly had its fair share of sin. Ephesus was built on the cultic temple worship of the fertility goddess, Diana (also known as Artemis). Where Diana worship went, temple prostitution was sure to follow.

Because the temple of Diana was a sanctuary for criminals who could not be arrested within a bow-shot of the temple, the surrounding areas were criminal-laden and sin rich. However, when the temple burned down in 232 AD, no effort was made to rebuild it. Why? Christianity!

How did Ancient Christians Change a Culture?

Ephesus transformed from an epicenter of Diana worship to hosting the Church Council of Ephesus in 431 because the message Paul preached was not merely a message of condemnation. It was a message of forgiveness and dignity.

Not only is Paul’s letter to the Ephesians Gospel-rich, it presents a faith that offers a dignified alternative to the ignobility of first century culture. Did Paul condemn sexual immorality? Most certainly, but he also portrayed the Christian alternative to licentiousness as a life that is rich in meaning; a life that is dignified.

Chapter Five

Ephesians 5 paints a picture of Christian marriage that makes the base marriage of secular culture pale by comparison. Christian marriage proclaims that the God of Creation offers man the opportunity to stop living a life that revolves around carnal pleasure.

Christian marriage means that a man gets to play the role of Jesus Christ and a woman plays the role of the church that Jesus loves. This was clearly a profound alternative to a fleshly relationship that ultimately relegated women and children to the role of servant and turned men into mere sexual beasts.

Ephesians Six

We have no evidence from Scripture that first century believers attempted to be culture warriors. Why? The Bible does not command Christians to change the culture. The thrust of the New Testament is to lead a godly life, serve in a local church and make disciples.

Ephesians 6 reminds us that we are not fighting an earthly war as values voters, but we are engaged in a spiritual battle for the souls of people.

What is Our Message?

Clearly our evangelistic efforts are to focus on the same thing that every sermon in the book of Acts focuses on: JESUS.

But as we do that, let us not merely present Jesus as the wonderful Savior from sins. Let us offer Jesus as the supreme honorable creator who offers a dirty, stained, lost, defiled, sinful world a dignified alternative to the base offerings of a world that increasingly resembles the first century.

Parts two and three will share 20 areas that God’s thinking is more dignified than humanism.

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