As warm and embracing as our faith might be to us personally, to some, it will come across as strange, insignificant, or even foolish. One reason why we are seeing unhealthy doctrines entering the church is that, in some cases, our core message has been compromised in the pursuit of relevancy and credibility. For some, the highest compliment of their faith is to be accepted by all. The record of Scripture paints a different picture.
The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers listening to Paul in Athens said of his message, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up? When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt” (Acts 17:18,32). These Greek philosophers were the thought-molders of the culture in their day.
The Roman court dismissively referring to Paul’s faith, “It was something about their religion and a dead man named Jesus, who Paul insists is alive” (Acts 25:19). This “something about their religion” attitude conveyed a feeling of irrelevance toward the message of Christ in the highest civil court of the day.
The believers in Corinth, who in some ways resemble the Church in Western culture, faced a similar issue. In his first letter, Paul let the Corinthians know their faith will not always appear credible to the surrounding culture. Paul wrote, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the very power of God” (I Corinthians 1:17).
So, how then do we live? We live with an on-going tension between actually wanting to be relevant and credible in the right way, yet not compromising truth. There was something the Early Church carried with them each day that allowed them to move through the rejection of the message they preached. They carried anticipation of the supernatural. The signs, wonders, and miracles of God confirmed their message in a way that legal or social acceptance could not. The same is true for us today. An expression of faith without the expectation of God supernaturally confirming our message will always lead to compromise because we will seek an unhealthy expression of relevance and credibility as our solution. This compromise happens because the confirming element of what we preach is something we produce, not God.
“And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose” (Hebrews 2:4).