One of our members, Teresa L., shared one of her daily devotional readings with me. It came from the book The Quiet Place by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It says what I would want to say about the condition we find “the church,” especially in the west, these days.
The Compatible Christ
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” – Romans 9:33
In many of our churches, it seems we’re knocking ourselves out trying to be “relevant” so we can attract more attention and bigger crowds. We don’t want to appear too different or extreme, for fear of turning off unbelievers or being perceived as out of step with the culture. We’ve accommodated the world rather than calling the world to accommodate to Christ.
But when will we realize that the world is not impressed with a religious version of itself? Our greatest effectiveness is not to be found in being like everyone else around us but in being distinct, in being like Jesus!
We have more varied means of reaching people with our message – Christian concerts, conferences, strategies, media events, books, radio/TV broadcasts, blogs and podcasts – than any generation in history. Could it be that the absence of true revival and of deep, lasting impact on outsiders is not from a shortage of creativity or cutting-edge methodologies, but from the lack of irrefutable evidence of His presence among us?
One ministry leader said to me in the middle of a prayer gathering, “Lots of people are praying and repenting, but so few are changing their lifestyles.” The truth is, if we’re not changing our lifestyle, we’re not repenting. And if we’re not repenting, then all our singing, praising, praying and producing are useless – perhaps worse than useless – because all the noise and activity may deceive us into thinking we’re okay the way we are without the transforming power of the gospel. And the world around us will continue to be disinterested in what we have to offer.
Our distinctiveness is our message. Our changed lives are our testimony. What makes Christ irresistible to others is His uniqueness, not how compatible we can make Him to the culture.
Nancy hits the nail on the head. Our calling as the church of Jesus Christ is not to become compatible with the world, or seek to make Jesus “relevant” to the world, but to call the world to surrender to the transforming grace of Jesus. Only He (Jesus) can make the world compatible to The Father. That truly is the only compatibility that matters.