Christians should always be aware of the culture in which we live and be able to present the Gospel to those around us. I think it is a noble idea to try and present the Gospel to people in ways in which they can understand, and I think that’s necessary to fulfill the great commission, HOWEVER, do NOT change the Gospel. Jesus and His message are controversial and edgy, don’t try and take the sting of that away by making it more friendly or cool. If you believe you can change or add to the Gospel as it is revealed in Scripture, you aren’t making it relevant, you are presenting a false gospel. The Spirit of God transcends time and fashion, and He alone has the ability to change the hearts of people, and it is through His power that the Gospel will be received, not through some sort of attempt at making it “cool” or “relevant” to the culture at large. The second we start trying to change the Gospel, we see churches who are more culture than Christ. We see Christians who are distinguishable from their secular counterparts only in the amount of things they do, ie drink, party, swear a little less. There is, after all, a reason why Christians hear things like “you all are so hypocritical” and while this may not be a good argument, it does come from somewhere. This is not an isolated incident, or a few instances of “back slidden” Christians. This is what Os Guiness says about American evangelicalism:
“I think evangelicalism in America has lost its way. It is profoundly worldy. It is almost as deep in what Martin Luther called a Babylonian captivity as the pre-Reformation church world was, and much of what we have here is more American than it is really Christian.”
If we have more time devoted in our churches and in our daily lives toward cultural relativism instead of toward the Christian faith and the doctrines that we hold, what we have is not evangelism, it’s idolatry.
Can you tell me what the Gospel is? Can you explain the Trinity to me? What is the Hypostatic Union? If you can’t, why not? These are essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Are they tough? Are they deep? Do they require study? Absolutely. So why aren’t you digging in?
I don’t care how many episodes of Glee you can recite, or what the Christian alternative to Lady Gaga might be. What I care about are Christians knowing what the Christian faith is all about, what the Bible actually teaches, and being able to give a reason for the hope that is within them.
It takes time, money, and maybe even a sacrifice of friends or part of your social life, but if you’re having a hard time making time and putting forth the effort to learn about God, ask yourself what you have in your life that is above God?
Christ laid things out pretty clearly in Luke 14 when he said that “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (26-27) and what about Jesus talking to the rich man saying “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19: 21).
You want to make that culturally relative? Ok, give up your ipod, your cell phone, your 401K, your summer car, your Wii, your reputation, your investment deals, your retirement plan, your business suits, your computer, your boat…etc. Would you be willing to do that for the sake of following Christ? If not, why not? Christ addressed a lot of our normal concerns in Matthew 6:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the?’ or ‘What shell we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (25-34)
Let us not fall into complacency and become ineffective and indistinguishable from the world at large. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)