Joh 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (19) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (20) Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
When I first became a pastor, one of the things that was emphasized in the churches I had been in, in the seminary I attended, and in the annual denominational conferences (required attendance, always went home feeling like a failure)…one of the main emphases was that in order to “win people for Christ,” we needed to “relate” to them. Be like them as much as you can, engage in the things they were interested in….do this and you will get them to choose Christ.
Now, like all confusing things, there certainly is some truth in this. A pastor and certainly every Christian – must not stand aloof and communicate to the lost that we are superior to them. A pastor who is only wrapped up in his theology study and has little time for people – well, that’s not a pastor. (And the pastor who only hangs with the people and never goes to his study isn’t a pastor either). We need to show an interest in people and in the things that are part of their lives. For example, if I see a fellow in the local community with a new tractor, I’m going to ask him about his tractor. You get the point.
BUT, the fact of the matter is that as a Christian, I am not “in common” with the lost. I might share certain common interests, but the fundamental focus of my life is Christ. My real fellowship is going to be with fellow Christians who are the real deal. And the more the people of this fallen world see Christ in me, the more they are going to hate me – unless the Lord chooses to send His Spirit to them to draw them to Himself. When the devil and his antichrist spirit evidences himself among us, there is going to be a divide. And that divide is increasing very quickly in our day.
Let’s extrapolate this thing into the coming days when, as Scripture tells us, Satan’s man – the Antichrist, accompanied by his False Prophet (see the two beasts in Revelation 13)…when Antichrist establishes his worldwide kingdom – only by the sovereign assent of God of course. What is going to happen? The whole world will go after the Antichrist, receive his mark, and worship his image…or else. Now, are we going to be instructed by the Lord to “relate to these worshippers of the beast, show an interest in the things they are interested in, be relevant to them so that…so that, what? So that they see you are interested in looking at the mark of the beast on their forehead?
When I hear well-known and widely followed preachers or other professing Christian personalities talking to us about how we must relate to worldlings, how we must show them that we “understand their pain,” then here is what my ears are hearing – “a tweaked ‘gospel’ that won’t offend.” Think of it. Did Jesus try to be relevant to the Pharisees, to show them some way in which he was like them so that they would listen to Him? Of course not. Because He was Light and they were darkness. The way He WAS relevant was to point out their sin, show them the reality that they were headed for hell unless they repented by looking to Him alone for salvation. That’s pretty relevant, right. In fact, the gospel is the MOST relevant topic we can ever talk to anyone about.
Many of you have been told that if you would just try to relate better to the RASN in your life who is oppressing you, ultimately they would decide to repent and follow Christ. That is bogus and unbiblical. The truth is that most of humanity is going to end in hell and it is only because of God’s grace and mercy in electing His remnant in eternity past that any of us are saved. Being “relevant” sounds just way too much like “become like them.”
Ya know, and this connects to Jesus “love one another and in this way the world will know that you are my disciples”, so if we love each other by NOT tolerating the RASNs, is that part of helping the world to “know that we are his disciples”. Just thinking out loud; hope that helps.