Cross Cultural, Part 5: “Go and do Likewise”

13 November 2009

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Thank you for your kind attention during this series.  We have gone through a missional reading of Colossians, identifying what it means to be Cross Cultural

In this series, we discovered that Cross Cultural living means:

Thinking Christianly: to have a Biblical worldview regarding Christ and His redemptive mission.

Communicating Culturally: to understand prevailing cultural attitudes towards Christianity and the church and remaining steadfast in our focus on the message of the cross.

Living Redemptively: to have an outwardly focused lifestyle wherein we take the gospel to our friends, family, workplace and the culture.

A CULTURE OF THE CROSS

As you have no doubt guessed, the title of this series is intended to be a double entendre – having two meanings.  To be Cross Cultural not only means to be a people who cross cultural barriers for the sake of the gospel, but also a people – indeed, a culture – who cares deeply for the cross of Christ.  We again echo Luther’s words in affirming crux sola – it is the “cross alone” that shapes and directs our faith.

The cross is the measuring stick of true spirituality.  It is the epitome of Christ’s humility (Phil 2:8), and the “power of God” to those “being saved” (1 Cor 1:18).  It is the instrument of our reconciliation with God and our neighbor (Eph 2:16), and therefore Paul’s sole reason for “boasting” (Gal 6:14).

THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL

Whenever I share the gospel I always say this: In this life you can be marked by one of three things – the things you have done, the things others have done to you, or what Christ has done for you.

The reason religion is empty is that it simultaneously adds to the cross and “removes the offense” of the cross (Gal 5:11).  Religion tells us that to be a “good” person we have to do lots of stuff – read our Bibles, go to church every Sunday, pray more, etc.  The message of religion is consistently do, do, do, do, do.  Christ’s final words on the cross were, “It is finished.”  Done.  Complete.  All the religious “stuff” may not be such a bad idea, but count for nothing in contrast to the cross.  Others feel the sting of rejection from others or guilt over past mistakes.  But the cross shatters the indulgence of self-pity by wiping away our guilt (cf. Jer 33:8).

And to those who follow Him Christ asks that we “take up [our] cross daily” (Luke 9:23 par).  Our task is to put into daily practice those things that God has taught us through His revealed character and Word.

FAITH AND PRACTICE

One of the very real struggles in both writing and reading a series such as this one is avoiding the potential dichotomy between faith and action.  James cautions us not to be “mere hearers of the word,” but “doers of the word” (James 1:22, paraphrased).  This thought is echoed in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who connects faith and practice in saying: “Only he who believes is obedient, and only he is obedient believes.”

Often we shrink back from our culture or our neighbors for feelings of inadequacy.  But the only true form of inadequacy is apathy.  Don’t focus on the answers you don’t have – instead focus on the message you do have.  Your testimony can become a powerful tool for taking the gospel to our culture – and don’t assume that because your testimony isn’t suitably “dramatic” that it cannot have the same power.  If you have been transformed by Christ, then this is a message worthy of being shouted from every rooftop, and cranking our amps up to 11 to proclaim this life-changing love.

If not you, then who?  If not now…when?

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

The author of this post presents the gospel in this way: “In this life you can be marked by one of three things – the things you have done, the things others have done to you, or what Christ has done for you.”  In what way(s) have you or others been “marked” by each of these three things?  Explain.

“Your testimony can become a powerful tool for taking the gospel to our culture.”  What is your testimony?  How might you use it to build bridges for the sake of the gospel?

 

13 November 2009

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Chris is a writer and speaker. He currently serves as teaching pastor at Tri-State Fellowship and as a research writer for Docent Research Group.

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