I received the following excerpt in a newsletter from Relevant Magazine. Though I often disagree with some of what the folks at that magazine write, I though this quote was quite…well…relevant! I hesitate to post such a lengthy quote here (copyright issues, perhaps) but I could not find a link for this article at their site. To assuage my guilt I have posted a link to the place you can buy the book this quote is excerpted from.
Several months back, I was watching a special report about the homosexual movement. It expressed the tremendous interest by the public concerning the recent promotion of homosexuality. Years ago, the TV show Ellen did the “unthinkable”—it openly addressed the lesbian lifestyle. There were mixed reactions as this type of show was transported into millions of homes across the country.
Currently, the media has attempted to outdo itself. Networks are competing with each other about who can come up with the most risqué show centered around homosexuality. “Gay” sells, and America is eating it up.
The report showed gay celebrities everywhere. It highlighted parades, festivals, and couples stating their commitments to join in mutual life-long partnership. It seems as though all is well for the homosexual “agenda.”
Toward the end of the special report, the network interviewed a radical gay activist who wasn’t too thrilled about the apparent success. He talked about his fear in this season of homosexual tolerance and propaganda. He shared his concern that the movement was creating a false sense of victory. Americans might think that gay TV programs are entertaining, but in reality, the majority of Americans think homosexuals are odd and irrelevant in relationship to societal norms. No American really takes the gay lifestyle seriously. He wondered if the homosexuals who were celebrating the victories were simply deceived and foolish.
I thought to myself, how true this is concerning the Christian subculture? We have Christian programming everywhere. There is Christian propaganda on every corner. Yet, I wonder, what’s the effect? Do we have a false sense of victory? Is the world a better place? Are we winning the battle because there is now Christian candy? Does the world just view believers as entertaining? Are we simply odd and irrelevant to them? Are we taken seriously? Are most of us simply deceived and foolish because we are celebrating false victories?
There are “good” things being done in the “name” of Christ. But, let’s think critically for a second. What does a Christian phone book produce? It’s a collection of people who verbally align themselves with a fairly conservative Christian creed. So what’s the outcome?
Many times the Christian phone book directs other Christians to do business with other Christians. Is this our mission? After all, it is biblical to do good to those who are of the household of faith. However, are we truly fulfilling God’s will?
[JESUS IN THE HOOD]
I wonder what Christ would think of the Christian market if He were living in the flesh here on earth today. He would probably contemplate the current situation while driving in His car purchased from the Christian car dealership. Most definitely the back of His car would bear a new Christian bumper sticker.
He would be sipping on his Jesus Java that He picked up from the Christian coffeehouse. Of course He would be decked out with the latest Christian T-shirt—a “creative” knock-off of a “worldly” slogan. He would journal His thoughts in His Christian notebook with his Christian pencil that reads, “I’m a member of the J Team.”
If He couldn’t get a healthy perspective, maybe He could listen to some Christian music. If that didn’t clear His head, He could always waltz into the local Christian bookstore. In fact, He might enjoy playing with a Jesus action figure. If His mind was still cloudy, He could gain some insight while walking the treadmill at the Christian fitness club.
Eventually, He’d become fatigued and need some Christian vitamins to help Him reenergize. All this walking in the world would probably wear Him out. He might enjoy kicking back on the sofa chewing some Christian candy while feasting on a healthy diet of Christian TV. If He got really hungry, He could always grab the Christian phone book and order out for a Christian pizza.
[REACHING OUR GOAL]
Is this our mission? Is our goal reached when we participate in every aspect of the market by providing a Christian alternative? It seems to me that all these alternatives collectively produce one common outcome. It seems they create a subculture that separates us further from the very people we are trying to reach. I don’t recall God giving us the option to create an alternative subculture that retreats and hides out from the world.
One of the only reasons—if not THE only reason—God did not transport us to heaven the moment we got saved is because He gave us a job description that calls for us to be salt and light in a decaying and dark world.
Salt seasons and salt preserves. Salt is only a preservative when it comes in contact with a rotting element. Salt only seasons when it comes in contact with something that needs seasoning. Salt has no effect when it’s on a shelf. If salt is on the shelf, it’s because it’s irrelevant.
Likewise, we become irrelevant when we separate from the world and refuse to interface with the people in it. We no longer season or preserve our environment. Instead, we’re merely absent from it. We sit on the shelf and shout our commentaries. As a result, the world continues to decay and remain a place of tastelessness.
Our spirituality must be incarnated into everyday life. When this takes place, geography or activity no longer bind spirituality. In other words, like Christ, we can interact with the world and still be spiritual. Our spirituality is not derived from where we go or what we do. We don’t have to be separated from the world and in the church choir in order to maintain our holiness. This must be understood. If not, then Christianity is simply reduced to a building (church) and/or a day of the week (Sunday).
This is what many believers are currently struggling with. They are localized Christians who are one-day worshipers. Francis Schaffer summed it up when he wrote, “A platonic concept of spirituality which does not include all of life is not true biblical spirituality. True spirituality touches all of life … not just ‘religious’ things.”
Adapted from The Journey Towards Relevance by Kary Oberbrunner, available now at the Relevant Store.