Have you ever noticed the phenomenon of the big cities? The large cities carry the weight of entire land masses. Decisions for millions come out of these centers of power. In the United States, with the exception of a few cities, the majority of this power and influence is held by the cities on the east coast. There exists a need for consideration from Christians when we consider that this concept parallels the church culture as well.
Who is it that often has the greatest influence within the church? Frequently, the larger the church, the larger the voice, and the larger the platform that others are willing to give to that particular church. Of not is that many churches have grown larger because of their influence and at the same time, maintain an influence because they grow larger. What is it that makes them so influential? Compromise. Compromise generates influence because it appeals to the emotions and social issue of the day, something Paul warned about in his ministry (cf. 2 Timothy 4:1-6). The east coast has maintained influence because of its willingness to adopt whatever mentality is prevalent at the time. The same is true for the influential churches of our day.
Now please understand that I am obviously speaking in sweeping generalizations, but the characterization overall is not an unfair one. As an example: Generally, New York City yields much influence because they are quick to jump on every trend. Continuing with the culture, they are quick to leave one and adopt another if it suits their interests. But, is this true of everyone within New York City? Of course not! We know very solid pastors within the city who are faithful to the Word, unwilling to yield to every cultural call, but instead willing to stay faithful to the truth.
There is nothing new under the sun. The foundation by which we live has been set long ago. From a secular viewpoint, consider that the elements that make up the earth have not changed; able to sustain life, we rely on those aspect every day and their form has not changed. Our nation was founded upon several documents that establish the basis for everything else. Those documents have not changed. What has changed is our interpretation and application of them. From a Christian standpoint, that foundation is even more unshakeable because they exist in an unchangeable God. Such a foundation goes further though because it sees truth and morality defined by God. Therefore, those who so readily conform must adequately answer the question, “If there is nothing new under the sun, why is it necessary to constantly change?” Thus far, there seems to be no legitimate reason.
As Christians in a world in which influence is strengthened by constant change, how do we respond? There are three responses necessary:
- Slight Shift: There are times when a slight shift is appropriate, but only when certain criteria is met. When we are wrong, someone offers a legitimate alternative, and God’s Word confirms it. Because we are humans tainted by sin, being wrong on some points is probable. Therefore, slight shifts may need to occur in order to more align our lifestyle with God.
- Compromise: There are times when ‘compromise’ is OK. Those moments are when God’s authority is not challenged. Paul writes of this in Romans 15 when he discusses matters of conscience with fellow believers. This is perhaps not the compromise that many are thinking when the word is utilized though. The significance in this case is more mature believers working with those still gaining a foothold in their faith for the glory of God.
- Never Compromise: While there are minor exceptions just mentioned, the most frequent position is to never compromise. When God’s Word is clear, accepting anything contrary to it is not an option.
Based on our identification as Christians, our commitment can be nothing less than a lack of compromise on anything that attacks the integrity of God’s truth.
Our commitment to the truth and unwillingness to compromise should be an admirable trait. A culture that is fluid, constantly changing its own values, is a culture that is untrustworthy. Christians on the other hand, so convicted by the unchanging truth from a righteous God, remain firm and constant. There is no doubt what we stand for and our willingness to submit to cultural attacks for that truth is representative of something incredible. At times it may cost us influence, but it cultivates a testimony, ultimately see the value of a short-term loss (the loss of influence) for a long-term gain (a long-term, eternal impact).
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