Look What We Discovered!
There is a principle laid down in John 15:18-19 that was spoken into existence by none other than Jesus Himself. And, once a principle or law is placed in God's Word it can never be changed. There is just such a principle in the statements of Jesus mentioned above. Basically it says: "The world hates me and it is going to hate you also." Never in the history of mankind can we find a point at which the world loved Christ or His Church. So, we need to understand that the world isn't going to like us. It is spiritually opposite from us and will repel the Church. The church isn't repelling it but the opposite is true for the world. The world repelled Jesus but He did not cease from seeking to redeem it. We must not cease seeking to redeem the world but we must realize that becoming like it is not the Biblical way to do it.
They want very little to do with God's people unless we modify ourselves to the degree that they are willing to have something to do with us. You see, the world will accept the church to the same degree that we are willing to modify ourselves so it can be comfortable remaining as it is and still feeling that they are accepted by God.
In John Chapter 17 we find a wonderful and enlightening revelation of the truth principle I mentioned is found in John 15:18-19. We will never win the world by becoming more like it to make ourselves acceptable to it. One cannot do God's business with the world's methods. We have nothing to tell them to turn from if we are like them. People are supposed to be redeemed out of the world not made to feel comfortable and accepted by God simply because they have attached themselves to a "church" which has modified itself to the point that the principle laid down by Jesus will no longer apply to them, or so they think.
When the world discovered that the Church is no different from them, they decided to attend. When they discovered that the difference between them and the Church had reached a tolerable level, they decided to darken the doors. When the Church created an environment they could tolerate they decided that they could tolerate the Church enough to show up. They had always known that the Church was different and therefore they stayed away but now they found the situation was different so they decided to attend.
As long as the Church maintains its difference from the world, it will flourish. It cannot witness to something that it is like. You can't win people out of the world unless you are different from it. Jesus went into the world but at the same time He maintained a separation from it. They knew He was different and many of them wanted to be like Him. Suppose He had adopted their habits and actions? Does one think He could have also said: "The world will hate you because it first hated me." No one hates that which is a mirror image of itself. But, if it calls the people of the world into question, they will not like that at all.
I believe that the reason the world now finds the church acceptable is that it more and more, reflects a worldly image which is totally acceptable to the world's people. They don't have to change a thing to feel at home because the Church has adjusted in such a way as to make the unsaved world feel comfortable in the midst. They have implicitly been told that simply because they are now willing to come that they will go to heaven when they walk out the door. This writer is not just talking about contemporary worship although I think it is teaching people that the worship of God is a casual thing and that He is just happy that one has taken a little time to come to His house. I am talking about the way in which some denominations have "adjusted" themselves so that unchristian attitudes and beliefs are standard practice. When abortion is accepted in a church or denomination, then the church has compromised and the world loves it. When individual churches and whole denominations decide that homosexuality is acceptable and that God didn't actually condemn it, then they have adjusted to the world's standard and the world loves it. When they will ordain homosexual priests and pastors then they have compromised themselves to the point that they are in danger of apostasy and the world loves it. When even some of our Baptist preachers tell their people that moderate alcohol consumption is all right, they have modified themselves to satisfy the desires of the world and the world loves it. Question: Why should the church give a flip about what the world thinks on such issues except that we seek to redeem them out of such things?
Since I mentioned contemporary worship let me expand on it a little. As stated above, the church cannot do God's business with the world's methods. What is it teaching people about God when we adopt the mechanics of the honky tonks and hard rock concerts? And that is exactly where some churches have gone for ideas on what will make people feel comfortable so they will come to the show. One only has to visit a few churches in today's world to hear deafening music with words that can't be understood and dark rooms with strobe lights flashing. Of course we can't leave out the smoke since it is needed for worship. People on the platform dressed like they just washed their dog instead of coming before a Holy God who demands respect. I have heard many preachers intone that "man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart." Does that mean then that God doesn't look at the outside as well? I think He does. A good rule is this: One should wear the best they have to come into God's presence. It signifies respect. But, if all one has to wear to come before the Lord is a pair of half worn out jeans, a ruffled T-shirt and some worn out tennis shoes then by all means, wear them and come worship the Lord. He knows the circumstances. However, if a person has a nice suit or dress hanging in the closet then they should wear the best they have to come before our Father. I have heard it said by some preachers that we need to "be more like our people so they will better identify with us." Our people don't want someone who is suppose to represent God to them to look and act like just another man standing in the pulpit. They want to be able to look up to the man in the pulpit. He represents God to them and they came to hear God 's Word delivered by God's man to the people of God. We should do everything in our power to separate ourselves from the world and stand before His People with dignity and respect.
One other principle: Anything that the world accepts and runs to; anything that they cling to and praise, anything that they adore and virtually worship, the Godly person will be well served to stay away from it. Remember what Jesus said:" If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you", John 15:18-19. If one wants to argue against this principle laid down in the Lord's words, then that is a sign that they are on the dangerous ground of modifying themselves to the point that they are acceptable to the world. And then the world will gather a crowd and loudly proclaim: Look What We Discovered!
William F. Harrell