“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
John 17:14-23 ESV
This may come as a shock to my readers who don’t actually know me, but I’m only 22 years old. Might be odd to some of you, since my disdain for youth culture makes me seem like some “Get off my lawn!” old man.
Being young, I can understand the desire the have the newest….well…everything. The newest iPhone, the newest fashion, the newest viral video from whatever Lip Sync Battle is (besides the death of music).
A lot of contemporary churches have this mentality as well, trying to cash in on trends. They’ll play secular music before their worship sets, some of their services can’t be distinguished from a pop concert and the pastors’ illustrations are trying harder and harder to bring in viral videos and reality TV moments.
In the passage above, Jesus is praying for everyone who will ever be a Christian. And He says “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” He makes a clear distinction between in the world and of the world.
This isn’t meant to say traditional churches are better, because there are great contemporary churches and horrible traditional churches, but by nature the traditional churches tend to fit this. People of the world are bored, confused or downright hateful of this type of worship service.
Again, nothing is inherently wrong with contemporary worship. But when contemporary churches bring secular media in, which comes from the world, what’s the point of that? Is it to make Christianity more comfortable for non-believers?
The Catholic Church in centuries past has had a similar idea. The result of that was us celebrating Jesus’ birthday on a day that certainly isn’t, by singing songs about a big fat man who puts presents under trees, with the focus on Jesus mostly limited to attending church and having a Nativity set somewhere in the house.
It may not seem like a big deal to change some aesthetic things to make worship more comfortable, but it’s inexcusable to change sermons and rewrite doctrine for the world to be more comfortable. Pastors care more about numbers than salvations now, and they try to build on those numbers by making everyone leave happy every week.
Meanwhile, the parts of the Bible where Jesus flips tables, calls out sinners and tells us to change our lives are either completely ignored or changed to a metaphor for no reason. The parts of the Bible detailing God’s wrath are glossed over. And don’t get me started on the tossing aside of the whole Old Testament.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 ESV
Christianity is not supposed to be comfortable for non-Christians. We don’t draw them in by having their same culture with a little bit of Jesus and a little less drinking thrown in. Having Christian raves or Water Pong tournaments at church don’t set a shining example of the old passing away and the new coming. It doesn’t paint a picture of Christians being a new creation. It says “we’re just like you but with Jesus.” That’s being OF the world. Just something to think about.