Core Values: Cultural Relevance

The story is told of a ruler in Sicily four hundred years before Christ was born who    was named Dionysius.  He had a man in his court whose name was Damocles.         Damocles was eager…too eager…to please and flatter the king.  One day while Damocles was talking to the king and praising him to the point of embarrassment, the king told Damocles that he would trade places with him.  Damocles eagerly accepted and found himself sitting on the king’s throne.  The king then had a large sword suspended from the pommel by a single horse hair placed directly over the head of Damocles.  Damocles quickly realized that being the king wasn’t all he thought it was and begged to trade places with the king.  “The sword of Damocles” is a common phrase used to describe a difficult situation.  The situation the church finds itself in as regards its relationship with the culture is very similar to our story.  On the one hand, the church must impact the culture in order to be effective.  On the other hand, the church faces the serious risk of compromise if it gets too closely aligned with the culture.  Fair Haven seeks solid ground with its core value of cultural relevance, but we will never seek mere “relevance” at the expense of doctrine and righteous living.


Monday…Jesus was accused of eating with sinners (Matthew 9:10ff).  Eating with one’s enemy was a definite “no-no” in the first century.  Therefore, if Jesus ate with tax     collectors, prostitutes, etc., was he their friend?  How could this be?  Jesus was indeed   a friend of sinners.  He wanted His message to be relevant and so He had to relate,    but Jesus never approved of, nor joined in with, bad behavior.  Meditate on this!


Tuesday…Paul said that he “became all things to all people” (I Corinthians 9:19-23).  He did this so that he could win souls, of course.  Does this mean that Paul wallowed in the gutter with those he sought to win?  Certainly not!  Paul wanted to relate and to make his message relevant, but he did not compromise his convictions.  Churches and church people would do well to take an example here.


Wednesday…Jesus’ invitation is not for the faint of heart nor the weak-willed.  His invitation is simple:  come and die (Matthew 16:24).  What a contrast between the cheap grace and easy belief of many American Christians. 


Thursday…An old bromide found in Christian circles goes something like this: “People are won to what they are won by.”  People who are won to Christ by the message of the cross are more likely to be fruitful and faithful Christians than those who are “won” because of church activities and programs no matter how relevant those activities and programs may be.


Friday…Fair Haven Christian Church wants to be relevant.  We will never, however, chart our course by consulting the latest winds of culture.  We will steer this ship     with our eyes firmly on Jesus who was counter-cultural to say the least.  Relevance should be based on spiritual needs, not what society/culture fancies at the moment.      A good chapter to see this clearly is Acts 17 when Paul visits the Athenians