Grunge is in – wholesomeness is out. Profanity is in – piety is out. Crude is in – genteel is out. And shock is in while politeness is out. At least that’s what we’re being told by those who claim to be in tune with contemporary culture.
Supposedly, in an effort to be more relevant to our profane culture, a growing number of people are reaching the conclusion that we must adapt if we wish to reach people with the gospel.
While I know of no one who would disagree that we need to be willing to adapt to reach people (after all, isn’t this what the apostle Paul did – 1 Corinthians 9:22)? But the adaptation some are promoting today is not at all what the apostle Paul had in mind.
Mark Driscoll, a nationally known “pastor” is so crude and vulgar in his sermons that he has been dubbed “the cussing pastor.” But someone might say, “Yeah, but it’s not surprising what you can find in the denominational world.” But friends, this isn’t just a problem among “them,” it’s among “us.” The National Conference for Youth Ministers, which targets youth ministers in the Lord’s church, will have Nadia Bolz-Weber as their Keynote speaker in January, 2016. Nadia is a former member of the church, an ordained pastor for the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and is known for her tattoos and for “swearing like a truck driver.” Her books and sermons are laced with four-letter words and vulgarity, for which she makes no apology.
So, is this the way to reach our culture? Must we immerse ourselves in profanity and vulgarity in order to resonate with our culture? Must our senses be shocked with crudeness and vulgarity in order to reach the lost? My answer is an emphatic “No!”
Could it be that some have embraced a “Jesus-less” Christianity? Could it be that some have forgotten that he is our model for life? Yes, Jesus was known to keep company with the sinners of his day, but when did he ever act crudely, or lace his speech with profanity or speak irreverently? Never! But was that a mistake? Could Jesus have needed some savvy church growth strategist to tell him his purity and holiness were “putting people off” and “making himself irrelevant?”
While some have given themselves over to crudeness and vulgarity;immersing themselves in television, movies, and music that share a common thread of blasphemy, the word of God still says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth…” (Ephesians 4:29). “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26).
Allow me to close with this advice:
- Don’t use Christianity as an excuse to be profane and vulgar. If you want to be profane and vulgar, go ahead, but leave God out of it!
- Reevaluate your priorities. Being “cool” and “relevant” in the eyes of the world isn’t nearly as important as being “holy” and “reverent” in the eyes of God.
- Realize that profanity and vulgarity should be just as offensive by the Christ-follower in the pew as it is by the Christ-follower in the pulpit. If we wouldn’t stand for one, we shouldn’t stand for the other.
- Don’t “Amen” the points in this article, then go home and watch things like “South Park,” “King of the Hill,” and other shows, movies, and music that take blasphemous pot shots at our Savior. How can we decry “Grunge Christianity” on one hand and laugh at it on the other?
Friends, Jesus needs us to live counter-culture lives today. He needs us to be lights; a city set on a hill (Matthew 5:14-16). He needs us to reflect his glory to those who are groping in darkness (Philippians 2:15). At the end of the day, we have to decide whether we will be a friend of the world, or a friend of God (James 4:4). “Grunge Christianity” is an oxymoron; if it’s “grunge,” it isn’t Christian.