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"Hey World, Look at Me!"

Remember when you were a kid? You were with your friends having a good time when suddenly you heard that whiney, irritating noise of your younger sibling's voice: “Hey! Look at what I can do!” I'm sure you, like most kids, turned around, thumped him in the head, and said something to the effect of, “Go away you little twerp!” But then, he pulled out a new shiny Rubik’s Cube. Everyone, except you, is in awe. However, not knowing exactly how the colorful cube works, your sibling tries throwing it like a baseball, breaking it into pieces. Once the fancy toy is gone, you and your friends walk away and talk badly about him behind his back. The little one yells at you and your friends as you walk away, “Hey guys, look at me!” You and your friends don’t even look back as the young one is left all alone. No one likes an irritating little pest! They try to fit in even though it is crystal clear that they do not belong with the “cool kids.” Humph... Well, I hate to say this but I believe the modern evangelical church has become that obnoxious little child who seeks to be what he is not.

In our day and age, the church struggles to keep members in the pews and enough revenue to keep up everyday operations. In an attempt to meet these goals the evangelical church has adopted techniques used by the world to draw people “back into the fold.” The Baptist church down the road advertises “Free coffee and donuts at every service!” The new, non-denominational church off the freeway replaces the pastor’s sermon with actors presenting dramatic “Gospel” skits. And the Methodist church near the house announces a Beatles music service where all the songs correspond to the tenants of the Christian faith. “All You Need Is Love,” right!?

What do these methods really do? “Well,” they would argue, “we’re getting people in the door aren’t we?” That much I will concede. But, at what cost? Are they coming because of the Gospel or are they being attracted by all the short-lived glitz and glamor? Like the younger sibling who didn't know how to use the Rubik's Cube, the modern church often tries to “redeem worldly tactics” and use them to get the world to look at them. However, by employing such techniques we bring people in under the wrong pretense. If they are attracted only by what is novel, they will eventually grow tired and move on.

The Church’s goal is not entertain people nor attempt to meet their perceived needs. We have a much greater mission: to acquaint the world with their greatest need and the only One who can meet it. They need to see their miserable and fallen condition and hear the message of divine redemption. Quite simply, we are called to “preach” the Gospel. In Paul’s day the Corinthian church was attracted by dynamic personalities. But Paul refused to play games and imitate the world. Consider his words in 1 Corinthians 2:2-5:

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

For Paul it was enough that he “preach” the gospel. The Apostle did not have to rely on a Starbucks bar. He didn’t resort to spectacular titles about subjects his audience would find “relevant.” He didn’t address “important issues of the time” but ultimate issues of eternal importance. No. The truth of the matter is, the Gospel is always relevant. From the time of the apostles until now, our condition hasn’t changed. We are all sinners worthy of eternal condemnation. Yet, God has provided an atonement for the ungodly. The command to repent hasn’t changed just because we live in a society that devalues objective truth. Our petty, perceived needs will always pale in comparison to our deepest need: Our need of a Redeemer.

As the church of God, our goal must not be to “fit in.” We should have no desire for the world to accept us into their fold. What’s more, we shouldn’t want the world to “look at us.” We should be showing them Christ. Still, we are His witnesses in this world. If we truly want to stand out, we must not blend in. We are called to be “a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.” If we’re serious about the Gospel, perhaps we should lay aside our “gospel dramas” and Rubrick's cubes. Let’s take up our Bibles and preach the uncompromising Gospel of Christ. Let’s tell the world we’re not all about people, we’re all about God!

- Jordan McGehee