Is it the church’s job to make God palatable to the world? It sure seems like much of modern Christianity thinks so. The world doesn’t believe it is in need of saving. Consequently, 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 appealing message to a secular society and a narcissistic culture is that Christ came into the world to affirm God’s acceptance of everyone just as they are. Granted, you have to ignore troublesome passages like Colossians 1:20 which speaks of “peace by the blood of his cross” but ignore it many in the church do.
With the advent of Darwinian evolution, the world became committed to humanism, secularism, and now progressivism. It views people as mere animals with no ability to curb lustful appetites and harmful behaviors. Religion, in general, is seen as an antiquated crutch for the weak-minded while Christianity in particular, with its ever-present call for repentance and holiness, is despised.
Today, people think they have a right to be free from anything that makes them uncomfortable. “I’m offended” used to be a mere statement concerning someone’s feelings. Now, it is the precursor to public excoriation and even legal proceedings. It’s not really surprising that those in the church who never graduated from the milk of the gospel to the meat (1 Corinthians 3:1-2; Hebrews 6:1-3) didn’t want to deal with the negativity of those who were “offended” by the call to turn away from their sins. So they just dropped biblical references to sin in favor of a more “affirming” gospel of love and acceptance.
The world doesn’t hold to any notion of sexual integrity. Yet, the Bible has a great deal to say about the parameters of human sexuality (and almost all of it is at odds with what is fostered today as normative sexuality). Clearly, that doesn’t sit well with culture, so many in the church, not wanting to appear judgmental but rather modern and progressive, yearning for cultural affirmation, were more than accommodating when the homosexual lobby equated its mission with the Civil Rights movement of the fifties and sixties. Never mind that common sense screams that one’s sexual proclivities have about as much in common with what color a person’s skin is as a telegraph is similar to a cell phone. But it wouldn’t be palatable to point out what 1 Corinthians 6:9 clearly reveals as unacceptable behavior (almost half of the behaviors listed deal with sexuality).
Church leadership in many denominations has abandoned the biblical mandate from Jesus Christ “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47), choosing instead to proclaim a more palatable and soothing message that all are God’s children and are accepted just as they are. And so we see church leaders locking arms with homosexuals in gay pride parades, racist bigots in Black Lives Matters marches, and women wearing representations of genitalia in women’s marches. In a continuing effort to “fit in” these religious leaders and their disciples forsake creationism for evolution, faithfulness for feelings, and holiness for acceptance. In politics, they’ve pretty much taken a stand against everything the Founding Fathers fought and stood for (going so far as to ignorantly proclaim the Founders were trying to protect the fledgling country from religion). All in an effort to legitimize and relativize their religious careers in the eyes of the very people who need the offer of forgiveness of their sins through repentance.
What these “leaders” either don’t care to know or want to know is that while they are making God more accepting and accommodating, “Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure” (Isaiah 5:14). The idea that the mission of the church is to make God palatable to a world mired in sin and narcissism is ludicrous to any person who reads and believes the Bible. Even worse, it is doom and disaster for those who promulgate such deception:
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 Christ 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.
This is where the church comes in. The church is the prophetic voice of God in the sense of warning sinners to turn away from their sins, accept the atoning work of Jesus, and crying out to Him for salvation. The church is to guide those duped by the false promises and allure 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, offered to “whosoever will” but bestowed only on “whoever believes in him” (John 3:16). This is where the rub is and there is no“palatable” way to tell someone that “unless you repent, you will…perish” (Luke 13:3). Acknowledging and confessing our sins is a major step forward in being a “child of God.” Kneeling before a holy Savior in repentance and calling upon His name is the only way to assure God’s acceptance of us (Romans 10:9-10).
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 faithful 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 call people out of their sins. But say it the faithful church shall, even though doing so means the diminishment of its place and value in this world. Our commission is to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ; not help people feel accepted by God for choosing to live in sin.