In many situations, the bride of Christ can be very unattractive. Hideous. Repugnant. Even nauseating. Too often, these opinions of the body of Christ are painted by those outside of the Church—by those who have been hurt by the Church. I hate to admit it … but I also believe the bride can be ugly.
For the relevant body to be effective, it needs to paint a beautiful picture of Christ’s acceptance and forgiveness to this generation, whatever the cost. It’s not just people out in this world who are lost, it’s our friends. It’s our children. It’s people who we love.
Depending on how we handle and grip this generation, we’re affecting them either positively or negatively. We can choose to hold on to old traditions and ill-faded mentalities, or we can reach out to our children. Pastor Mark Driscoll said it perfectly: “Churches that embrace tradition over their children will die slow and painful deaths.” Unfortunately, we are seeing the result of that in churches today. They hold on to tradition rather than reaching out to their own children.
What’s more important: This generation changing its hairstyle and taking out the piercings, or denying to point them to the cross because we can’t let go of our traditionalism?
The Apostle Paul understood the concept of reaching out to his ever-changing generation instead of holding fast to his traditional views. Yet he reached thousands without compromising his integrity in Christ.
“For preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t do it!” (1 Corinthians 9:16, NLT).
Paul later goes on to say, “When I am with the Jews, I become one of them so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with those who follow the Jewish laws, I do the same, even though I am not subject to the law, so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with the Gentiles who do not have the Jewish law,
I fit in with them as much as I can. In this way, I gain their confidence and bring them to Christ. But I do not discard the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:20-23, NTL, emphasis added).
The concept of a relevant body isn’t a new one. The early Church urged believers to reach out to win some for Christ. Paul is clearly saying, “Hey, guys, let’s deny ourselves and win some for Jesus, whatever the cost.”
Paul also wrote, “For ‘Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10: 13-14, NLT, emphasis added).
A relevant body of Christ is a going body. Moving and discipling this generation in a way that is relevant to this culture. As soon as we grasp the understanding of dropping our traditionalism, the sooner we will see the body start to function as a body. The legs will be moving, the arms reaching out, the eyes seeing, the ears hearing and the voice being heard. God wants a unified body, an unbreakable body, an effective body. A relevant body.