The signs are there. You’ve probably seen it yourself. Today’s Christian church is buckling under the pressure of the culture. In a sobering sign of our times, the Christian church is shaping its theology into the mold of the culture. We’ve become so comfortable with our culture that we’ve allowed it to change our approach, our worldview, our message, and our very creed.
The Shift into Oblivion
The slide into a culture-created worldview is apparent in many areas. In order to avoid being too militant, too belligerent, or too odious, we’ve backpedaled on some theological points, lest it sound too “harsh” or “angry.” Instead of holding to the Bible as the source of truth and doctrine, we’ve elevated the sophisticated thinking of the cultural elite. In an effort to focus on “relationship,” we’ve jettisoned hardcore truth. In pursuing “compassion,” we’ve lost the kernel of Christianity. By bending to the winds of “tolerance,” we’ve lost the distinctive identity of Christ-followers. We’ve been riding a slide — down, down, down into oblivion, to a point where we have no doctrine, no truth, and nothing of substance to offer.
What’s a Christian, Anyway?
What does it mean to be a Christian? Well, it depends on what “Christian” group you’re in. You can choose the megachurch group, and raise your hands to the music like the rest of them. You may enter the ranks of the fundamentalists with Pharisaical insistence upon standards and boundaries. Perhaps you can choose to be a “moderate” Christian, and live life in nominal Christian anonymity. Our Christianity is so scandalously bereft of its true biblical distinctives that we have ceased, perhaps, to possess authentic Christianity.
Many Christians dress like the culture, talk like the culture, swear like the culture, make music like the culture, eat like the culture, work like the culture, shop like the culture, divorce like the culture, entertain ourselves like the culture, yet hold on to the hope that maybe we’re still Christian enough to get by. Sure, we do good works. We give to charity. We attend church. We say Christian vows when we get married. But is this real Christianity?
It’s virtually impossible to completely separate culture and Christianity. Christianity must adapt to its culture, just as the early church did in the first century. But how much culture should the church imbibe?
What would your church look like in rural Uganda? What would your church look like without the “extras?” What if you take away the lights? The stage design? The trendy sermon series? What if you strip away the “relevance?” What’s left? What would your church look like in North Korea? What would persecution do to your faith? How would 3am secret church gatherings affect your church attendance? What about the possibility of imprisonment and torture for publicly professing Christ?
The world needs something different, because what it has is nothing. The world needs Jesus, but instead we’re dishing up a warmed-over version of their very own culture.
It’s time to let relevance go. It’s time to cling to Christ alone. It’s time to do more than bumper-sticker Christianity and Sunday-morning charades. It’s time to face our culture with Spirit-inspired boldness and Christ-exalting love, and proclaim the truth of Jesus, crucified and risen again.
Are You Willing to Pay the Price?
You must ask yourself, “Am I willing?” Are you willing to lose something, to sacrifice something? Are you willing to ditch relevance for the sake of reality? Are you willing to preach truth instead of modern platitudes? Can you stand up to the onslaught of the world — the laughter, the scorn, the appeal, the applause — and live like Jesus?
Before worrying if your shoes match your shirt, or your stage props maximize your sermon theme, or your video intro is edgy enough, think about something different — it’s all about Jesus, it’s all about God’s Word, it’s all about his kingdom. Proclaim the unadulterated truth, and let come what may.