I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how “behind the times” Christians tend to be, and usually from other people who profess to be Christians. While this is mostly about music, the other items that creep in to this conversation lean toward the church lightening up on things that the Bible calls sin. The problem with this trend of comparing ourselves to the rest of the world is that there should be no comparison. I get it: people want to reach people on a level they understand, but really what is going on here, if we stop to think about it, is we’re shaming each other for not looking more like the world, at least in its trends. I’m turning 40 this year, and while this isn’t as long a time as some people who read these, I know this: trends don’t last. They’re cyclical, and if we’re seeking to keep up with them, we’re going to get lost.
When it comes to the world, there is no comparison. Church, we need to stop comparing ourselves with the world, both in our merit, and in their trends! The only comparison the Church needs to make is against Jesus Christ: how much do we look like Him? How are we doing what He commands? Are we making disciples, as He said to do? Are we telling the world about Him, as He told the world about His Faither? Loved ones, the world is not our home. We’re warned against befriending, or even looking like the world. This isn’t becoming “all things to all men that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
This is about being set apart, Holy, as Christ died to make us become. We absolutely need to go out in to the world and make disciples of all nations, we need to follow Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 9:22, but we do not need to compromise along the way. This is not an indictment about musical tastes. If you love modern worship music, and it’s doctrinally sound and brings you in to a mode of worship toward God, Praise the Lord! If you love the older songs and hymns, and they are doctrinally sound brings you in to a mode of worship, Praise the Lord! But in practice and in deed, we need to compare ourselves to Jesus Christ, and He alone! When it comes to Jesus or the World, there is no comparison, and both are going in two different directions!
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.