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If I take Jesus, do I have to take Christianity too?3 min read

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One of the most controversial and problematic rifts in Christianity today is separating the message of the gospel from the Cultural Mandate.  How many people reject Jesus because we wrap him in our western Christian theology, culture, and politics? 

Even in my church, the Pastor doesn’t say "Christian" anymore – he says "Christ follower."   Check out these excerpts I typed up from this awesome audio of a missionary lecture:

A young Thai man said to me ‘I’ve always wanted to know more about Jesus, but I’m a Buddhist, and I’m afraid that if I take Jesus, I’ll have to take the Christian package with it." … What’s the Christian "package?"  What have we messed up?  What have we done to create a difference between the reality of the person and the system of belief we call Christianity?

Some countries see Christianity as a Western method of control with power over the people.  They see it as something that breaks up families…something that is not practical.  Ralph Winter, General Director of Missionary Fellowship said "Today, Christianity itself is identified with the cultural vehicle of western civilization.  People in mission lands who do not wish to be westernized feel they need to stay clear of the Christian church…which is often highly western in its culture, theology, and it’s interpretation of the Bible."

Do you really believe that it is Jesus that saves us, and not religion?  If you really do, why do we try to get people to change their religion?  Sometimes it’s appropriate, sometimes not.  You see, the Christian "package" is anything we add to Jesus…. Are we modeling the Christian package or the person of Jesus Christ?  What is more important?  Following Jesus or thinking we are always right?

Salama, a young Muslim who gave his life to Jesus, felt that he had to go back and tell her family about Jesus….She tells her family she is a Muslim so that she can tell her family about Christ.

This missionary’s talk is very interesting and thought provoking.  People who call themselves Muslim or Buddhist, but call themselves followers of Jesus Christ, but not Christians, because the word Christian now really means "Western Christian."  Many followers of Jesus in other lands refuse to call themselves Christian.

Jaya Westernization has always been a problem in missionary work, sometimes overcome, sometimes not. For a great overview of missionary work since the first century, I highly recommend From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya.  It will change your life, maybe even make you want to be a missionary.

This reminds me of the whole flap over "Messianic Muslims."

We have to be able to clearly articulate a strategy of sharing the gospel without our cultural add-ons, while at the same time, we need to articulate and implement biblical thinking about Christian living, subculture of the church, and transforming public culture as well.