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27th June 2024

Fit in But Stand Out

To live distinctively for the Lord the Christian has to fit in whilst at the same time standing out.
Daniel in the Old Testament & Jesus in the New Testament are outstanding Biblical examples.
Whilst living in a hostile host empire they stayed loyal & true to the Lord & brought glory to his great Name.
We are in this world but not of it (John 17:16). Saved from it but sent to it to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
How then are we to live & how are we to make the Lord & His truth known?
There are four main ways that Christians have sought to take a stand historically – defence, relevance, purity & faithful presence.
We looked at defence yesterday & today we will consider RELEVANCE (we must engage & stay relevant to our culture).

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 NKJV

The passion & motivation behind this position is to remain relevant & in touch with contemporary society.
Maintaining inclusivity & seeking to love & welcome everyone from all walks of life.
The advocates are seeking to ‘mind the gap’ between the Church & culture.
There is a lot of current (often contentious) discussion, debate & movement in the modern church around issues related to relevance.
It is about carefully discerning & understanding where Christian faith meets & relates to (intersects with) contemporary culture.
Is Christianity & Christian truth always in alignment with contemporary (or ancient) culture? SELAH
The great challenge comes where there is a mismatch & in an increasingly post- Christian & godless age that gap is getting BIGGER.

The Church must always find ways to lovingly engage with people & culture through strong & healthy connections.
The difficulties & dangers come when the Church, or Christians, start to assimilate worldly culture.
We see this time after time throughout the journey & history of the people of God in the Old Testament.
The temptation is always to seek to blend in fully at the cost of one’s distinctiveness. Being Christlike can be sacrificed for relevance.
If one is not careful the result is that we become conformed to the world rather than being conformed to Christ (Romans 8:29, 12:1-2).
The message gets mixed up & messed up because of the passions, emotions & behaviour of the messengers!!! SELAH

To make a lasting impact & difference one has to maintain one’s distinctiveness (just like Daniel & Jesus).
The reality is the Kingdom of God ultimately trumps any, & every, earthly or worldly culture.
Christlikeness is the key because Jesus lived & walked in a way that was deeply attractive & relevant to people.
Holiness is always attractive to people!! SELAH People must see Christlike distinctiveness to respond to it
In improving ourselves, by becoming more like Jesus, we improve the world. Start with yourself!!
Christ lived in God’s world, God’s way in a hugely relevant way & through the power of His Spirit so can we. SELAH

For Reflection

  • How passionately & strongly do I think cultural relevance is for Christians & the Church?
  • Are there any ways where I am flirting with worldly culture in an unhelpful or unhealthy manner?
  • Meditate upon how we are called to stay relevant but also to be distinctively Christlike.

A song related to this theme:

Heavenly Father,
Thank you that You have saved me for the purpose of disciplining the nations,
Give me daily help & strength to stay true to You yet be relevant to this world & it’s people..
Jesus, You lived in a hugely relevant manner yet in complete loyalty & utter faithfulness unto the Lord,
Teach & train, equip & empower me to walk in this world in Your ways.
Holy Spirit give me wisdom, understanding & discernment of both Kingdom & contemporary culture,
Renew my mind & conform me unto Christ & not unto this world.
This I ask in the mighty Name of Jesus.

Written by Gareth Jones

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