Imagine Warren Buffet’s personal assistant called your friend one day and told him that the famous investor wanted to personally teach your friend the secrets of financial success. What if the offer included personal investment advice with a guarantee that your friend would dramatically improve his lifestyle by becoming more prosperous, successful and influential? Now imagine that your friend told the personal assistant that he would be happy to learn from Mr. Buffet provided the billionaire first dressed more culturally relevant, listened to popular music, would speak common street jargon, would relate his teachings to popular television and film, and would post catchy memes on popular social media sites.
Most of us would, undoubtedly and affectionately, tell our friend he is “NUTS!” We would probably also be upset that he squandered an opportunity which would have more-than-likely had positive ramifications for us as well.
While the scenario sounds preposterous, something similar is carried out hundreds of thousands of times every weekend in America. What started out innocently enough, with instruments and music, has evolved into an all-out cultural relevancy push which, on the extreme end, promotes the acceptance of culturally-promoted lifestyles that are in clear rebellion to Biblical teaching and historical Christian doctrine.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against modern instruments, lighting or designer jeans any more than I am against organs, electric lights, or three-piece suits – none of which were a part of the early Church. There are deeper concerns, however, when strategies, tactics and “stuff” are promoted above the fundamental principles of the Mission and Core Values of our Faith. This is especially true when scriptural principles are subverted in an “ends justifies the means” pursuit.
Neither Jesus nor the early church leaders spent a lot of time hung up on material things or cultural trends – except when they clearly violated God’s commands. There is no discussion on what kind of building people should meet in, or if a building is needed at all. The only directional discussion on music is that we should teach and urge one another toward godliness through Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs. (Colossians 3:16) There is no discussion on acceptable musical styles or prohibited instrumentation. On the other hand, the centrality of Christ and His work is a consistent and prevailing theme of Scripture as is the necessity that we remain in Him. (John 15:4-6)
Abiding in Him, is what the Church is called to do and to teach. It is to be our area of expertise and the fulfillment of our calling. Jesus said, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32) Our job is not to exalt culture or to argue over styles of music. Our calling is to lift Jesus up and promote His agenda, and His alone.
The Church should be less focused on the culture – good or bad – and more focused on keeping the main thing, the main thing. Instead of fighting against or constantly trying to appropriate cultural trends, we should be focused on equipping the saints for works of service and building up the people of God until we all reach unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. (Ephesians 4:11-16) Obviously that alone is a monumental and life absorbing task.
If Warren Buffet were to offer me personal investment advice, I wouldn’t care about his musical preferences, fashion sense or office décor. Honestly I wouldn’t even care if he used technical jargon with which I am unfamiliar – I know how to use google and dictionary.com to unpack the language. I would, however, want to know everything Mr. Buffet is willing to teach me about finance. When true seekers of God come to the Church for spiritual guidance, they likewise aren’t really too worried about all those things. What they are looking for is people who care about them and are willing and able to teach and model the living Christ in a way that allows God to transform their lives and situations.