Things have changed. I remember when we dressed up when we went to church. I remember when Christians did not go to movies - except Disney films for children. I remember when Christians did not drink, not even wine. I remember when Jesus and God were words reserved for serious conversation and then used with respect and reverence. I remember when butt was considered crude and ass would get a kid's mouth washed out with soap. Need I go on?
How life has changed. Today in many evangelical congregations, anyone who wears a suit is either old or hopelessly old fashioned. Going to a film or having a personal DVD library of the latest Hollywood flicks (no matter PG-13 or R) raises no eyebrows. And BYOB is de jour at men's Bible studies. Need I speak of the decline in civility and increase in crudity in language - at least among men? OMG!
I suppose some of the change has been due to cultural change and the feeling that Christians must not close the doors to communicating with our culture. How can we expect a person who is not a Christian to be comfortable if he (or she) walks into our church dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans while we all look like we are dressed for a 1950s sunrise service? So we have rethought all those convictions and traditions. We've decided that they were less than genuine, were stuffy, and perhaps "holier than thou."
Of course, Don Miller and his Blue Like Jazz culture changer helped us with fresh ideas that seemed so liberating.
But it seems to me that we are now taking pride in, even flaunting, those marks of "liberation" without serious thought to whether it pleases our Lord. And isn't that the bottom line criteria?
Seriously, have we rejected or devalued or confused biblical holiness for the sake of cultural relevance?
I think we misunderstand Jesus. Yes, he ate with drinkers and sinners. But can you imagine Jesus using crude language, getting drunk, chilling out by listening to music or watching movies that celebrate sexual immorality, or getting a tattoo. Can you imagine Jesus using the name of his Father in anything but a totally reverent way? I can't. Yet, he did not seem to put off people who did. What was his secret? If I read the Bible correctly, it was his genuine holiness without being stuffy or judgmental.
That begs the question. What is genuine holiness without stuffiness? Whatever it is, we'd better figure it out or we will become irrelevant by becoming so like the world that they can see no distinction - except our theology. And they are not interested in empty theology.