We live in a crazy world. Of course I am less than thirty years old and my experience is limited, but based on my knowledge of history and world culture I believe that our society acts more selfish, obsessive, and entitled than ever before. People seek power, pleasure, and immediate gratification. The line between rights and privileges is so blurry that many people feel entitled to whatever they want. Being a part of this culture often makes me feel shameful, and seeing others buy into it breaks my heart.
As Christians, we are supposed to be different. We are called to remain pure and true in the midst of whatever mess we find ourselves in. Without selfish motives, we are supposed to stand out in such a way that God can be seen through our actions. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)
However, we are also called to share the gospel. Christians are responsible for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to anyone and everyone that will listen. With Paul being one of the greatest evangelists of all time, we often follow his lead. In 1 Corinthians, he writes: “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV)
So wait…we are supposed to be different from everyone else and not conform to the patterns of the world. Yet, we need to be able to fit in with everyone in order to share our testimonies. Is it just me, or do those two strategies seem to conflict with each other? Sure, there has to be a way to fit in and stand out at the same time. But for most, finding that balance is like trying to find a vegan at a Baptist potluck.
For many, the effort to find the perfect mixture of blending in and repping Christ can be a little too much, and we just end up seeking the status quo of going through the motions. However, from what I get from scripture, that is exactly what God wants us not to do. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16 NIV)
Our culture is so spiritually cold that, if we are not careful, our efforts to be different can lead us right into the comfort of being lukewarm. In trying to balance standing out and fitting in, we need to be very clear that we are doing both for the glory of God and not for our own comfort or peace of mind. The moment we start making our efforts about ourselves or even about the work that is being done, we drastically compromise our potential to exceed lukewarm temperatures.
How do you balance trying not to conform to the patterns of the world with Paul's strategy of becoming all things to all people?