Is it the Church’s job to make God palatable to the world? One wonders if that is not exactly the adopted mission of modern day Christianity. The world doesn’t think it is in need of saving. So a God who sends His Son to die on a cross “that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17) is unpalatable. A more palatable message is that Christ came into the world that all might find acceptance before God. Granted, you have to ignore troublesome passages like Colossians 1:20 that speaks of “peace by the blood of his cross” but ignore it many in the Church do.
The world doesn’t hold to any notion of sexual integrity. Unfortunately (for the world), the Bible has a great deal to say about the parameters of human sexuality. Clearly, that doesn’t sit well with culture, so many in the Church are embracing “marriage equality.” Not wanting to appear prudish or Puritan the “we want to be accepting church crowd” were relieved when the homosexual lobby equated its mission with the Civil Rights movement of the sixties and seventies. Never mind that common sense screams that a man’s desire to have sex with another man has about as much in common with what color a person’s skin is when they are born as a mosquito is similar to a cell phone. But it wouldn’t be palatable to point out that 1 Corinthians 6:9 not only points out generally that the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God but homosexuals specifically are in eternal trouble.
The world is committed to humanism. We’re nothing but happenstance globs of thinking flesh. It views religion in general as a crutch for the weak minded and Christianity in particular as a mental disease. The Bible calls atheists fools (Psalm 53:1) and explicitly warns that the message of salvation through the Cross of Christ is “folly” to the world (1 Corinthians 1:23). What can those who believe the mission of the Church is to make God palatable to the world do about that? They can agree with them on evolution, of course. They can also tell them they believe all religions are equally valid and align themselves as often as they can with their pseudo-science (the gay gene, the missing link, global warming, etc.). They can side with the liberals on every political issue and abandon the Founding Fathers ideological extremism (who wants to be under the auspices of a document that specifically references Divine Providence and inalienable rights bestowed by a Creator?). Take away all objective truth and moral absolutes and surely their religion will be more palatable to the world.
Absolutely, and while we are making our God easier for the world to swallow, “Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure” (Isaiah 5:14). The idea that the job of the Church is to make God palatable to a world mired in sin and narcissism is ludicrous to any person who knows and believes the Bible. Even worse, it is doom and disaster for those who promulgate that tripe:
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
I’m not suggesting that the mission of the Church is to belittle and berate those living without God but I am absolutely saying that nowhere in the Bible is the Christian given permission to alter, hide, or otherwise obfuscate the truth so as not to offend the sinner. “Love thy neighbor” does not equate to change or hide what God has revealed about his/her sin. Love doesn’t reveal itself by giving a penniless alcoholic the means to purchase another fifth. Here is the bottom line for those who care to actually read the Bible: God’s love for all does not translate into His acceptance of all.
That is where the Church comes in. The Church is the prophetic voice of God. Not necessarily in the sense of predictions (per se) but more in the sense of being the voice throughout the land that says, “Thus saith the Lord.” The Church is to guide those duped by the false promises of sin to the Cross of Christ (where sin is broken) and the empty tomb (where hope is restored) and the upper room (where meaning and purpose find fulfillment). There is the Kingdom of God. And yes, everyone has an opportunity to find themselves there and is wanted there. But no one can get there through their own proscription. That is where the rub is and there is no way to “palatably” tell someone that “unless you repent, you will…perish” (Luke 13:3). Usually, that is analogous to guiding that alcoholic out of the fog of his alcoholism. There is no palatable way to do it. Being confronted by sin is part of the battle. Admitting to sin is another major aspect of it. And kneeling before a holy Savior in repentance is yet a further part of the biblical strategy to be deemed acceptable before God.
It’s important to know that “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). Equally as important is “whoever does not believe is condemned” (John 3:18). My task as a church going Christian is not to proclaim the former at the expense of the latter but to faithfully say them both. And sometimes there is no “palatable” way to say the latter. But say it the faithful Church shall even though doing so means the diminishment of its place and value in this world.
Ray Rooney, Jr.