This morning, on my way to work, there was this young guy driving in front of me. This time of the morning, about 6:15, traffic is stop-go for about 30Km (18.6mi) of the way. This young guy obviously did not like the state of affairs and was performing in his car. I must admit that seeing a snail pass you on the highway does not make you feel good!
Everytime we came to a stand-still, he would throw his arms into the air and I could see his lips move 12 to the dozen! This was probably his first time in the morning traffic and maybe he thought that this was unusual. Well, as a seasoned highway traveller between the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg, I know that there is just nothing that can be done about the traffic.
The closer we got to Johannesburg the calmer he seemed to get. It just seemed like he came to a point where he realized that nothing he could do would change the situation and getting upset about the traffic was just not worth it!
Now, it seems to me that the church is in exactly this same boat.
Some time ago someone, who knows who, decided that for the church to grow it should get into the same lane as the world. Therefore, in order for the church to be "successful" (that dreadful word) we should become like the world. Same music, same clothes, same attitudes, same trinkets, same marketing methods, same this and same the next thing!
Whereas the church previously kicked against the depravity and evil of the world, now that it was in the same lane as the world, there was just nowhere to go. Inevitably, after many protestations of the world not going at the same speed in the same direction as this lane-changing-church, the church came to the conclusion that it no longer could fight the good fight of faith and is simply just sitting in the stream of cars, going at the same speed and in the same direction as the world!
The old saying, "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and walks like a duck, then it must be a duck!" holds true here. The church has done so much to be acceptable to the world that it now looks like the world, swims like the world and walks like the world! Do you see where this is going? Much of the church have become so much like the world that it has become the world!
It has become fashionable in the church today to market itself as some must-have item. Sure, Christ is a must-have! But to be marketed as a must-have item, the church has made itself expendable. What happens to all these must-have worldly items that are marketed everyday as if it is a life and death situation? Tomorrow they are discarded for the next must-have item! This is and will continue to happen to the church while it continues to conform to the standards of the world and transforming itself into yet another must-have item!
The church has sold its soul to become the next fad. The church is now so much like the world and its ever disposable trinkets, it has become almost impossible for Christians to live without the next runaway fad like the Purpose Driven Whatevers, the Prayer of Who?, the Left Alone and other marketable non-essentials. (I hope you know which fads I am pointing to here?!) Many of these market driven fad Christians would not know what to do with their Christian lives if left alone with only their Bibles in hand. They simply need their next fix coming from the latest gratuitous "christian" fad.
But like the world, they MUST become. How else will they draw the world?
They have forgotten that all these fads and Biblically unmerited programs simply do not save. Salvation comes by God alone through the complete preaching of the pure gospel of Jesus Christ alone! NO program and NO fad can save anyone! PREACH THE GOSPEL!
The problem with the modern church, in all its problematic and dare I say heretical expressions (like Emergent Church, Church Growth Movement, Word-of-Faith, etc), is sitting in the wrong lane and wrong direction. Instead of climbing into the same lane and direction as the world, the church should be marching to the beat of a different drum in the opposite direction and different lane to the world!
The church must decide what it is that is being offered to the world. A whole bunch of sameness, same fads, same marketing, same must-haves? Or is it preaching the salvation of the gospel of the all-sovereign God of the universe, Jesus Christ?!