Musings From A Recovering Child of the Bible Belt

Growing up just slightly to the west of the Bible Belt’s proverbial buckle, I entered adulthood with a strong knowledge of the Word of God. That’s the bright side.  The other side of that shiny buckle is that I grew up with a lot of ideas that were touted as “Christian” that were really just cultural.  The culture was so entwined with Christianity that it was very difficult to see them each for what they were.

One funny example is what were known as “The Blue Laws”.  These laws prohibited certain commercial activities on Sundays.  Car sales are still prohibited!  All of this, thanks to the Puritan heritage that still influences our culture.  Never mind that when first established in the colony of Connecticut, the laws allowed for the militia to force people to attend church and forbade everything from working to wearing lace.

As a young adult I moved with my husband to New York City.  I was somewhat amused at the fear exhibited toward Southern Christians.  I knew they had little to be afraid of, but maybe the militia thing was still haunting them.  For the first time in my life I started to see the difference between culture and Christianity.  I happily discovered that I could wear jeans or shorts to church without being looked at like a heathen!  It was not because these people were disrespectful of being in church or because they simply weren’t “raised right”.  It was just a practical matter.  We all walked a long way (by suburban standards) to get to church.  We dressed for the weather and for wherever we were going after church, which was usually Central Park.

I later moved to Ohio and then to North Carolina.  I’ve been in a lot of different kinds of churches.  I’ve noticed that churches have their cultural expressions as well.  I’ve learned to appreciate the differences.  The different churches addressed in Revelations had different strengths and weaknesses.  Jesus had something to say to each of them on both counts.  I’ve been to churches in several countries other than the United States.  Those experiences are eye-opening as well.

Lately my eyes have been opened further.  There is a purity in our personal relationship with Jesus that comes when we recognize that we really are not of this world or the cultures we live in and neither is Jesus.  The Lord has taken me aside lately and helped me to examine my heart, beliefs, assumptions and mind sets once again.  He wants us to have a Kingdom of God mindset first, rather than an earthly regional or even denominational (i.e. Texan, Baptist, Eastern, Northern, American, Episcopalian, non-denominational etc.) mindset.  We are all shaped by our culture and he placed us where we are and has given us certain experiences to teach us certain things, but ultimately, our identity has to be in Him and as Citizens of His Kingdom, and although it is molded by, it cannot be grounded in our culture, Christian or otherwise.  When we are not Christ centered, we tend toward prideful and egocentric attitudes or on the other end of the spectrum globalism.

So, if you dare, ask the Lord to show you the things that you may have accepted as “The Gospel Truth” that are really only cultural at best and unscriptural at worst.  It’s a needed exercise at some point and it makes us much more usable by God to those of all cultures and nationalities.

Luke 17:21Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

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6 thoughts on “Musings From A Recovering Child of the Bible Belt

  1. Excellent post! I have one question: Do you think the Sabbath is “optional” now? The reason I ask is that if that 1 of the 10 commandments is optional, the rest are too… right?

  2. You are so right! That is why as we are no longer under the law. If we break one, we’re guilty of not keeping the law and are subject to punishment. We are no longer under the law but under grace. Praise Jesus! Back to your exact question, though, Jesus said, “I am the Lord of the Sabbath.” He is the Lord of every day and every moment. The Sabbath was for rest. His death and resurrection brought us into true, everlasting rest that the law could never provide. We are not required to keep any laws because we could never really do it anyway, and I would add that as we live in Him, who has kept all of the laws we will fulfill the law that covers them all…love. Jesus made a way for us in spite if our inability to be perfect. It is not about going to a building on a certain day but about realizing that you ARE the temple of the Holy Spirit and that we ARE the church and loving Jesus and His people EVERY day. It is not about striving to keep the law but allowing Him to do it in us. He is so good!

  3. Matthew 5:17-20 NASB

    “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
    “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

    “Not everyone who calls out to me, `Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, `Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, `I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
    Some words from Jesus to consider!
    Notice it says ” Get away from me, you who break Gods laws”
    Though I agree we are NOT to serve God in the newness of the Spirit. Jesus came to put His laws in our hearts. It’s now the Law of the Spirit of Life that we in! So we now submit to Jesus our Master and rely on Him to guide us into ALL truth. But I would also contend that everyone of the ten commandments are relevant to us today. I mean stealing, killing and adultery is never gonna be ok with a Holy God or society.

    Blessings

  4. I wanted to make a correction. It seems that I left out some words. OOPS!
    It should read. *Though I agree we are NOT to serve God in the oldness of letter of the law but in the newness of the His Spirit.

  5. Amen, Anthony! You’ve got it! How could we steal, kill or hurt anyone or anything if we are following the law of the Spirit since LOVE is the law of the Spirit? Well said and thanks for the scriptures. 🙂

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