Cross-Pollinated with the World
Located in my home town of Tifton, GA is the Coastal Plains Experimental Station. It is associated with the University of Georgia and Abraham Baldwin College. One of the purposes of this enterprise is to experiment with plants and farm products in order to make them better and more productive. One can see the fields of corn which are isolated from each other for the purpose of experimentation. The varieties are noticeable in their subtle differences because of the varying experiments on them. At a certain time of the year one will notice large corn stalks with the tassels at the top covered with brown bags. This is for the purpose of keeping this particular field pure to its particular experiment. They don't want it to get cross-pollinated with any other varieties with which they are working.
The cross pollination can be by accident or intentionally. If it is done intentionally there are certain characteristic that the experimenters are wanting to produce in order to form a new variety of corn with particular desired characteristics. The old variety will be changed as its DNA is adjusted during the experiment and intentional cross-pollination with another variety of corn. The by-product won't look the same. It may be a different height. It may produce more ears of corn. The corn itself may have a different look and color. The result of this cross-pollination is that the corn is changed; sometimes for the good and sometimes not so good. But once the DNA is changed it will not be the same.
As I think about today's church, I am reminded of the experiments in South Georgia. The principles are so closely related that it would do us good to think about them. The church has made a critical error in that it has gleefully chosen to cross-pollinate itself with the world. And, in doing so, it has not passed along its best traits to the world but has been tainted by the traits of this evil place in which we live. As a result, the church no longer stands pure but it displays characteristics and attitudes that are not natural to it. At the same time, this cross-pollinated church isn't aware of the effects of its cross-pollinated condition. What it considers normal and natural is strange and destructive to those who experienced and remember a pure church before the cross-pollination occurred. The "flower" doesn't look like it did before. It responds to a new kind of environment. Its beauty has been altered. To those who were a part of the cross-pollination process, it is attractive. To those who knew it before the process, it is tainted by characteristics which cause it not to be as beautiful as before, and certainly not improved upon. Cross-pollinate long enough and the original is gone. Let's examine this for a moment. Question: What is wrong with the vibrant and beautiful hymns of the faith? One would think that they are poison to anyone who sings them these days. We have two generations who don't know those great hymns of the faith which taught us theology and exalted God's work for us in Jesus and do not focus on the individual and how they feel about themselves. As one man put it to me recently: "I want to get back to hearing real sermons and singing the great hymns. I have teenagers who have never heard a song sung from the hymnbook." Why was it necessary to so suddenly reject those great and Godly hymns for vapid little choruses which cannot stand in the shadow of the great words and spiritual realities contained in the hymns. Most people learned the theology they know from the hymns because they were written by men who knew what they were talking about. They were not under a music publisher's deadline so a book of choruses could be put on the market quickly so that money can be rapidly made. The vast majority of these choruses were produced on demand while the great hymn writers wrote at the urging and guidance of the Holy Spirit when the Spirit moved them along to express what He wanted said.
The New Testament Church has been cross-pollinated almost out of existence. We are living in a church today which vaguely resembles the original. When a crop is perfect, the scientists at the Georgia Coastal Plains Experiment Station will strive to keep it from being changed by other varieties. The Church, when built by Jesus, is perfect and should be protected from cross-pollination with the world. But, the "protective bags" have been removed and every worldly characteristic imaginable is being brought over into the church by every wind of doctrine and practice. The cross-pollination has occurred and the by-product is a strange mixture of the true church and the world. And, remember, we are taught in the Bible that there is nothing good about the world. We are told to reject it. And, anything we borrow from it will corrupt us.
When the world infects anything spiritual in nature, including the church, then its purity and effectiveness is corrupted and the by-product is suspect. False doctrine and worldly characteristics will denigrate the church as well as one's concept of who God is and what He expects from us in worship. Cross-pollination and compromise are essentially the same, except that cross-pollination can happen to you so slowly that one is unaware it has happened while compromise is something that one decides to do and expecting that something different will emerge from it. The basic difference is that with cross-pollination, one actually acquires some characteristics that assume their place in the body and automatically bring certain responses because of the presence of those acquired traits. These traits become part of the DNA and cannot be overruled. Compromise is always destructive but one can decide to cease to compromise and also to reject the results of it. People can turn away from traits they acquired by compromise but traits acquired by cross-pollination.
Now, satan loves compromise! Its quicker than slow cross-pollination and it works really well for him and his quest to destroy Christianity. But he also knows that cross-pollination is much more pervasive and longer lasting. He doesn't care if it takes generations to accomplish his goal of changing the DNA of Christianity. He just wants to see it neutralized to the point of destruction. And, while he tempts people with compromise every day, he much prefers the longer lasting and more destructive cross-pollination.
People have said to me that they "just want to be the member of a New Testament church." I respond to that statement with: "no, you don't want to be the member of a New Testament church. It would require you and those around you to think and behave fundamentally different from what we do today." People of today think that if they are in a church which is popular and "growing like a weed" they are in a New Testament type church. If it has big buildings and lot of people who feel good about coming there then it is a New Testament type of church. If it has all the fun programs and a successful softball or soccer team it must absolutely be a New Testament type church. If the preacher is popular and "wows" the crowd with his personality, jokes and short sermons as well as makes his hearers feel good about themselves, then it must be a New Testament type church. I challenge everyone to take a trip through the New Testament and see if the traits by which they ascribe the "New Testament church" characteristic to the church they attend are actually contained in the scripture which instructs us. You see, the cross-pollination has occurred and we feel good about it.
A generation can only pass along what it has learned and retained. The next generation can only pass along what it was told and retained. Each succeeding generation passes along less than it learned from the prior generation. That is why the quality and depth of Christianity as well as the general society is degenerating. In a few more generations what will our faith and practice involve? If we pass along what pleases us and actualizes us, then we go down-hill because the content satisfies us. It is man-generated. If we pass along what God has given us through the Holy Spirit and His Word, then we are dealing in things that are eternal and won't degenerate. It is high time that we have a group of spiritual leaders who will be wise enough to reverse the current trends. God will have to raise them up and show them solutions beyond man's ability to see. They must be prophets who are not afraid to stand against the cross-pollinated opinions and powers now entrenched. May God bless us with the men to accomplish this overwhelming task because we will die or degenerate into a vapid shadow of what we should be if we are spiritually blind enough to Cross-Pollinate With the World!
William F. Harrell