Getting Away from Your Culture to Experience Christ
How Culture Replaces Christ
Our culture has blinded us. And Jesus is the only way out.
Regardless of where and when you were born and raised, and regardless of your circumstances---people, parents, teachers, friends, and institutions, for better or worse, showed you how to speak, think, and live. For example, with American culture, we are infused daily with the view of entertainment being a supreme avocation, accumulation of stuff being the source of joy, and we boast in individualism. Where is the reality of God, the experience of Christ, and the flowing joy of the Spirit?
The Revelations in Mark 7 and 8
Mark 7 to 8 unveils some very basic principles of pursuing a genuine spiritual life in Christ. They all involve a common theme—getting away from our daily routine to experience the reality of Christ. Are you ready?
So far we have seen in this section how to be free from 1) religious traditions, 2) our tribal tendencies, 3) the crowd, 4) our excuses, 5) miracles, and 6) unhealthy teachings. Now the Lord Jesus is leading us by the hand out of our village--representing the human culture than distracts and blinds us from Christ.
The Blinding Village Life
In this section of Mark, which is all about the topic of getting away from it all to experience Christ, we see how Jesus, even though He could heal someone with a single word, went to great lengths to show a long process: We read:
“They brought a blind man to him, and begged him to touch him. He took hold of the blind man by the hand, and brought him out of the village. When he had spit on his eyes, and laid his hands on him, he asked him if he saw anything. He looked up, and said, “I see men; for I see them like trees walking.”
Then again he laid his hands on his eyes. He looked intently, and was restored, and saw everyone clearly. (Mark 8:22-25)
Experiencing the Jesus Therapy
First, Jesus led the blind man OUT of the village, signifying he had to get the blind man away from the source of his blindness, which was his human culture. Second, Jesus spit on his eyes and laid hands on him, signifying that once separated from our culture, we need Jesus to infuse us with His living word out of His mouth, and touch us with His Spirit. Without such a detailed, intimate, experience of Christ, there is no way out of this kind of blindness.
Third, He had to repeat this treatment. Think about that! Did you ever see a case like this in Scripture. Did Jesus “sort of ” raise Lazarus from the dead, and then tried again to finish the job? Never! This case is different. It reveals how deep in our bones is our culture, and how Jesus must work in us repeatedly to save us from it. Without this constant treatment and therapy from the Lord, we will never see clearly what our life is all about.
Finally, after Jesus had given the man His sight, He concluded with a particular command:
“He sent him away to his house, saying, “Don’t enter into the village, nor tell anyone in the village.” (v 26)
In other words, the “village” is to be avoided at all cost, for the rest of your life.
Christ Our New Culture
God’s desire is not that we would separate ourselves from civilization and be a hermit in a cave living a monastic life. Neither do I think does He want a community set apart from itself, such as the modern day Bruderhof commune. I visited this group in Pennsylvania recently, and was very impressed and delighted by their simple and godly approach to life. They have much to teach us. However, I question their choice to stay away from the rest of us in a rather isolated community.
The divine way is revealed in scripture. The Lord desires a humanly divine assembly life, focused right in our homes and in our communities where we work and live, that does not live according to the prevailing culture, but lives according to the indwelling Christ. American culture is sick. Christ is wonderful! The first century believers in the book of Acts had this life (2:41-47;5:42), but it did not seem to last long. Today, the Lord’s desire is to restore such a Spirit-filled, one another, Christ-focused life. Are you willing to leave your village and seek out others who have the same desire?
"He sent him away to his house, saying, “Don’t enter into the village, nor tell anyone in the village.” (Mark 8:25)