What is relevant?
I want us to think about this some more. Last time I invited some responses (and got some great ones) on the reality of living with the darkness of sin in the world. My basic assumption is that it’s only when you’re living in the world that you can be truly “relevant.” And my contention is that we exchange truth for a lie when we come to “save people out of darkness.” We can’t take people out of the world. We can only give a glimpse of the light and allow Christ’s redemption to make an impact. The distinction here is deceptively important. Being like Jesus is the key: hating the evil, but completely at ease with the state of the victims, nonplussed by their sickness, so much so that the life shining through us forces us to love them by living where they live.
And most of us already know that instead, it’s become common to reduce redemption to gimmicks, social mobility, status, and other escapes from reality—much like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. Christianity wasn’t supposed to raise your standing in the social strata or help you escape the dirtiness, the unsavory, the violence, sex, and language of our culture. If you think about it, Christianity is more likely to cripple you in the world’s system than help you conquer it. But we’ve begun to equate success as a Christian with the life support system of books, music, and para-church ministries that the Christian industries have created. And I’m really, inescapably tired of it.
Because you know, none of this would be such a problem if it wasn’t for the religiosity it encourages. Religiosity—trading the power of God for the power of men—is ten times worse than the darkness the religious Jesus junkies are so afraid of. False piety and Christian elitism is not simply opposed to the redemption of God; it’s a destroyer of truth. Closing our eyes on ugliness and evil severs the work of redemption, supplanting the reality of God’s humility, and making others feel even lower than they already do.
The fact is, there’s no escaping reality, for Christians or anyone else. We are all under this curse of evil until the day we die. We can’t and should not want to escape the brokenness, for the sake of our neighbors, our charge from Jesus Himself. Of course, we should desire the redemptive nature of God’s work in the world and the ultimate escape of heaven. But let’s just accept the reality of sin. It exists. It can’t be denied. And it has no power over us. And pardon my heathen talk, but what the hell are we so damned afraid of?!
You can’t prevent exposure to evil, if you want to be relevant to evil. When Jesus came, He promised daily help in temptation. He promised a life of adventure, of living in the world as we helped others understand their daily need for salvation. And in return, He promised we’d be consistently reminded of our need for Him as we lived out that charge.
I just want to help more people catch this message. Do you agree? I’m ashamed of much of what is called Christian these days. I don’t know any other way not to be of the world than first, to be in it. It’s only when I’m in the world that I realize my daily need for a savior. Only God gets to not be in the world and Christians need to stop pretending they can be little gods and section themselves off from the people God loves.
You know? This is why we need ministries like Youth Specialties and Relevant media and all the great generation-changers I’ve been getting to know through this blog. I believe we can change the way things have been going with some good books that don’t sell out to the lie of safety. And I want to know who’s with me. I want to see all of you who know this stuff already and feel it down in your toes that God wants to use you to have an impact in some way on this current system. I’ve been jabbering on for a few months now and I’m trying to get my bearings. It seems to me there are plenty of us who realize the need for something new, and some are already doing things about it. We need to find more of them and bring them all together in one place.
There are exciting things on the horizon for those who catch this wave and hang on for the ride. I hope you’ll consider coming along…