Bear with me, I’m a little upset.
What part of “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” aren’t we getting?
There is a serious curve that is emerging in the church, and we used to point our fingers and talk behind the backs of a specific group of people who were artistic and edgy…but now the margin is thinning and the compromise is rampant. Only we don’t call it “compromise” we call it “relevant”. We use the words of Paul in his address at Mars Hill – basically where he says, “I have become all things to all people so that I might save some.” But, it’s not a legitimate translation of that passage; it’s a misrepresentation to justify partaking in the pleasures of the world. (And, I realize that I just lost readers and ticked some people off, but I’m not too concerned.) I don’t know where the “relevant” movement will end, but as one called to lead and impact this generation…I’m having a hard time following suit.
Leaders are immersing themselves in the culture – drinking, smoking, cursing. They say, “We’re trying to be relevant, to reach out, to be a part of the crowd.” What crowd, any real reason why? Because we are afraid to be called “hypocrits?” And yet, it’s exactly what we are. Because we want them to embrace Jesus? So we are helping them by lighting up and tipping the bottle and spilling expletives, oh yeah, because I totally remember in Mark 28:8 where Jesus got a little tipsy at the party and started cursing the Pharisees. Um, no. The excuse I often hear is: “Hey, it’s okay. Even Jesus ate with the sinners.” Yeah, He did. He reached out to them with a voice that said, “Come to me all of you that are weary and burned out, and I will give you rest.” But I don’t recall him passing the hookah.
This “shock and awe” witness is getting old. I’ve actually heard people say, “I think it is so cool that pastor so and so cusses. He really understands.” What does he understand? That his use of the English language is so limited he has to resort to slang to get his point across. I’m pretty sure that you can say those things without getting vulgar. The truth is that those that are listening to him, even those in the world, might actually have more respect for him if he spoke out of a heart of compassion and sensitivity…just saying.
But, truth be told, I’m frustrated for another reason. I’m frustrated because in being lackadaisical about our habits and our actions, we are missing the bigger picture. In being nonchalant about our indulgences we are making an impact greater than we realize. In slinging cuss words and consuming alcohol and smoking nicotine we are saying “This is okay.” We are saying to the younger generation, “Indulge, enjoy, live it up!” All the while, we are exchanging our witness for our release. This is not okay. It’s not. And, when I’m paying the rehab bills to help my alcoholic daughter get over her addiction because some idiot said that she could drink because Jesus drank and that gives her the license to do the same, I’m gonna be furious! When my daughter is in the hospital with emphysema because some youth pastor decided to prove a point to the church by smoking in front of his kids, I’m really gonna have to spit in his face! No. I won’t actually spit. But I will be sure to show him this blog, this post, this warning and my child and say, “Do you think this is what Jesus meant when he said to feed His sheep?”
I beg of you. Let’s not set aside our witness to let out our steam. It’s a problem, and as cool as it is becoming, it’s not cool. It’s not cool when mentors of young girls now become confusing to them because where they are going to Bible Studies and they are doing mission trips, they are dropping the “f” bomb and are drinking more than just occasionally. These are the same ones that tout, “Be all things to all men so that we might save some,” but if you are doing these things in the privacy of your home, on the back porch with a shade up, are you doing it for “all men” or are you doing it for you? Has your release become more important than your witness?
Jesus says, “Come as you are.” But, those that have been pitiful and dirty and scarred, desperate and dark and scared know that He doesn’t want you to stay that way. It’s a process. I will be the first to admit that I have a ton of issues that need to be rooted out and dealt with, but He is faithful to gently and passionately show me what they are and as He does He transforms those places…by the renewing of my mind, not by my “relevant” living.
The hope is in the changed life, not the compromised one.