Page 100 was a full day which began with a snowy drive from the hotel to Great Lakes Christian College for the second day of the Michigan Christian Convention. Once at the convention, the day was filled with great conversations about the prayer ministry and the resources God has gifted me to write. When I packed up to head home, I had two empty boxes so I estimate about 150 books made it into the hands of people who would use them. I stopped by Lake Michigan on the way home to catch the setting sun on a very cold evening. The beauty that I was able to see and photograph was worth the cold fingers as the wind came off the lake.
As I worked on the timing to catch both lights on at the same time, I thought about the teaching that Ben Merold shared at the convention today. In addressing the topic of “Church Relevant”, he addressed a growing trend where churches often sacrifice many important Biblical doctrines, and sometimes even the gospel itself, in order to pursue being relevant to the culture we live in. He made a series of statements that he termed a paradox. I’ve been chewing on these statements since I heard them and I believe they are worth your time and energy to chew on them as well. He said the first century church was never relevant to the culture it existed in — in fact, it generally stood in complete opposition to the current culture of its time. The second statement on relevance reflects what scripture teaches made the first century church attractive within the culture it operated in. He said the first century church was always relevant to the needs of the people who lived in the culture it existed in.
I fear that far too often church leaders have decided the church must look more like the culture so people will feel comfortable, all while neglecting the actual needs that people experience because of the culture of the world they live in. Jesus said that the world would know we are His disciples, not by how much we look like the world but by how much we look like Him. While the design and technology behind lighthouses has changed over time, the purpose has always been to make them as effective as possible in meeting the need of guiding ships away from danger and safely into the harbor. The one thing a ship’s captain needs from a lighthouse is for it to function as it was designed to. I’ve always appreciated, and been saddened by, the story told of life-saving stations along the coastline becoming clubs of comfort and prestige as they would do away with the tasks of going out on the water and saving lives from storm-tossed ships. In an attempt to be relevant to the people living on land, they were no longer relevant to the needs of the people caught in the storms out on the water.
I pray that you and I would constantly seek wisdom and direction from God in living the gospel in a way that is relevant to the needs of the people around us who are caught in the storms of life. I pray that we would never lose sight of our calling and purpose to make disciples. I pray that we would be more concerned about directing people away from danger and toward Christ than we are about blending in with the culture in a way that we are no longer noticed.