Category Archives: Culture and Communication

Calling From God that Goes Beyond the Natural Life

Couter Cultural Christianity“11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.” (Galatians 2:11:17).

The Call of God and the Authenticity of the Gospel

Politics, nepotism, and social pressure from cultural religious networks of people are nothing new to the religious world. In fact, the context of this scripture suggest that these forces were at work placing pressure upon the early servant of the faith and many times severely hindered the work they were trying to accomplish. Look at the words of Paul as he spoke of his past life and the way he was entrenched in a religious system of belonging, controls, and social pressure creating conformity to the ideas of men, which equaled religious humanism in the 1st century. Unfortunately, those immersed in these cultural representations could not see the problems associated with these socio-cultural entrenchments because of  their ingroup affiliation that validated their life and existence. Thinking upon this morning, I am reminded of how much that churches have become social units,that are heavily influenced by traditions of the world and have moved away from a clear sense of calling from God, and have become social units that propagate cultural Christianity that is indigenous to a culture and not subjected to the scripture or submissive to God.

The Counter cultural Message

The apostle Paul presents a counter cultural message that asserts that its source is God alone. Therefore, the call of God is not a call to serve Him through contact with God and that contact with the nature of God will develop my understanding of the call and the direction it will take. Further, contact with God will assist me in gaining an understanding of what the call of God means for my life and how the call is to be measured out into definable actions. The call of God is an expression of His nature; the service, which results in my life, is best suited to me and is an expression of my nature that God has created in me and works through me. A deviation that occurred from the natural life was stated by the apostle Paul that was initiated by God—“When it pleased God . . . to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him [the message purely and solemnly expressing Him alone] among the Gentiles”

The Call and the Developing Understanding

Two challenges speak very loudly as I read Paul’s statement about the way he received and understood the message. The word revelation is overused, misused, and misunderstood by many Christians to mean some private mystical and private word from God that others have not heard. That was the heretical teaching of 1st century Gnostics, the experience of paranoid schizophrenics, as well as, other cults and mental disorders. Therefore, this application leaves a a unreliable etiology to reliably understand what revelation points toward. It is abundantly clear that the Bible is the only revelation of God that we will ever need and is the full disclosure of the supreme revelation, Jesus Christ. When Paul says that he received his message by revelation, it was not until his eyes were opened by Jesus and he could see past the temple, the Torah, the Targums, the Mishnah, and the Rabbinical writings that were a part of his enculturation. Then, as he met Jesus, his eyes were opened past His acculturation. God took the things that he had been taught in the Old Testament writings and revealed Jesus that he had not seen before because he was blinded by everything that he was absorbed in within his culture believing he was doing right and everything within him that attributed meaning, as he understood it from a human cultural perspective. Then Jesus cleared it up for him in a process of three years. As I read this, I am really aware that the word of God is of no private interpretation and God has a process of revealing His message, but it comes when we become aware of Him and separate ourselves to let His word speak to us that we might understand the revelation of God. A firm conclusion reveals that Jesus is the revelation that made the message clear as Paul’s previous knowledge was clarified by an encounter with Christ, God’s supreme revelation

Separation to Service

Service does not result from belonging to a ingroup, it results from belonging to Jesus and being devoted to Him alone. The message determines the mission and service is the overflow, which pours from a life filled with love and devotion for the Savior who calls us to a radical mission. Service is my gift of obedience in the relationship and reflections my identification with the nature of God that has been revealed to me. Service becomes a natural part of my life when I have separated myself from cultural Christianity to radical Christianity that elevates the Gospel to its proper place of priority in our life and the church. Service occurs when God breaks my will and brings me into the proper relationship with Him in order that I can understand His call, and then serve Him from a pure motivation of absolute love. Service to God is the deliberate love-gift of a nature that has heard the call of God. Service is an expression of my nature, and God’s call is an expression of His nature that invites me to participate in His work. Therefore, when I accept His nature and hear His call with an understanding ear, it is at that moment that the words that God has spoken in His word are revealed clearly.

Your words oh Lord separate me from the normal way of the world to the higher ways of God that result in sacrificial service that does not come from men or through men, but are a result of an encounter with the nature of God on the road of life. Lord, Your Word comes so quietly and so pervasively to convict my heart —Lord protect me, insulate me, and isolate me from the trappings of cultural Christianity and religious conformity that has a death grip on the church. Break the bonds in Jesus name through the power of the gospel.


How Cultural Trends and Communication Influences Perspective

I only Railroad tracks have one opinion so it is the only one I can give.  I know that sounds narrow minded and resistant, but isn’t that really what it boils down to with everyone?  However, the problem with opinion is that many time opinions are irrelevant in an atmosphere of constantly changing culture in the 21st century.  As a result, one of the present challenges in a modern world is to keep up with the rapid pace of ideas that are speedily changing culture right before our eyes. Therefore,  on the high speed information network, this challenge presents a constant need to adapt to changing constructs,  and to understand  the limited ability for most people to comprehend the amount of information passing before our eyes.

What Happened to the Measuring Stick?

In a world  where a narrow perspective is swiftly vanishing, some people may question whether any generation has possessed a  point of view that is constant, timeless, and irrefutable through all of time, generations, and cultures to provide a standard that information can be measured against to synthesize information contained in the the present communication of ideas.  Obviously, while there are differences about the answer, the ideas that many people hold as timeless principles of truth seem to be quickly vanishing in the milieu of ideas and being edited within the context of modern culture.  A strong point to consider about information and communication in a time that is technology bound is that the happenings of culture today are affecting, not only what subjects are relevant to the times, but the methods of communication in the 21st century.

Perspective Shape Ideals and Ideals Constantly Change

In regard to the present evolution of ideas and communication, Ed Stetzer (2011) cited Adlai Stevenson who stated, ‘”That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in another.”  He did not have a particularly high view of the next generation, but he does challenge us to consider the radical changes in thinking that are sometimes visibly witnessed between generations” (Stetzer).   The apparent point to be understood is that every generation has a perspective that shapes contemporary beliefs— what is deemed important—values that form a perspective about level of importance of certain ideas.  In addition, it is not just the message of communication and values that is important, it is the fact that methods of communicating from the past are vanishing and being replaced on the super highway of technology.  Consequently, what is apparent from an understanding cultural transformation in the 21st century is that a present cultural perspective is shaping point of view and validating the principle that both the vehicle and the message in every generation creates a shift in the way and method that people in a given generation arrive at a conclusion that they believe to be trues in a vehicle that  creates a mind-set.

What Shapes Perspective?

Just as people from different cultures, races, and people groups think differently about important issues, generations are cultural subgroups of the macrocosm of human existence.  It is evident that each  thinks differently about matters of  believed to be of importance.  However, remember that successive generations hold a different point of view that is emerging and is relevant to the time.  Therefore while people may disagree, different perspectives are worth taking time to consider. It is said that one thing common to every generation is how the collective perspective is internalized. Ed Stetzer  (2011)  cited George Orwell’s perspective, which states that “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it and wiser than the one that comes after it” (Stetzer).  Someone from a past generation may ask: Are current generations really more intelligent or are earlier generations wiser?  Obviously, the answer depends on perspective – what it looks like from where you are standing.

What perspectives are influencing the way life is understood in the 21st century?

The perspective, the unique way life is understood today, is a sociological and cultural phenomenon. For those who want to deny reality and continue to ignore what is shaping the point of view of the emergent culture of the 21st century only creates frustration and disconnection, which does not offer any substantive answers or a reasonable framework to understand reasoning behind current ideals.

Creating Effective Communication

Ideologues and philosophers offer suggestion about what is occurring, but unfortunately understanding ideals and philosophy alone will not provide efficacy that creates effective communication. Ideals, are generally moral ideas or mores’ based on certain group identification that create expectations about how people should think or act. Philosophical assumptions are the ways that beliefs are rationalized into reason.  Thus forming, the informational content of perspective. Values or axiology has more to do with what is deeply felt, importance, passion, and motivation that affect beliefs. For example, the felt importance of something believed to be true.  When tension are deposited in life experience that raise a conflict with existing values, it results in conflicting passions and ideals about what is important; thereby creating a  disconnect between perceptions and experienced reality.

Then people must decide who/what determines the way values that are espoused or felt are to be rationalized when the experience does not match a current belief or value.   As a point of reference something that needs to be understood is how  perception is connected to reality for people in the 21st century.  There is no doubt that  the constant flow of information  redefines  importance of things deemed to be logical in one generation as information is disseminated and absorbed into successive generations.  Therefore, there is a constant tension that exists in the message and mode of communication resulting in aberrations about how people process what is  felt about information, which places great emphasis upon personal or group perspective.

Obviously, anyone can give an opinion about what is wrong with something.  However, knowing what is wrong is not the critical issue in disseminating information into efficacious results.  One perspective held by some people s to write people off who look different, think different, and have a differing perspective.  Another point of view is to embrace the culture and learn the language, thinking, and mindset of the 21st century to more effectively address the issues of our time.  Seeing someone else’s perspective is not whitewashing culture or moralizing behaviors, it is asking why do people do that in the way they do and understanding if people desire is to connect, communicate, and build meaningful relationships, there remains a need to understand more than what we know.

With the increasing isolation of people and the desire to have relationships, there is a tremendous opportunity to step outside a solitary opinion and understand people as part of a culture that thinks different than we do.  The opportunity demonstrates a tremendous potential, if we will take time to understand how perception formation is impacting beliefs and governs the content and methods of communication in the 21st century.

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