Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Re: Comments on my previous post.

XLT: I agree that “As many young people complain as much or more as older people . . .” However, I have to speak as one of the old geezers. I feel more free to criticize my own “kind.” Besides, I just spent two weeks in my home town visiting with old friends and relatives. They’re not all gripers. :^)

I also think that we older, supposedly more mature Christians should be able to distinguish which matters are essential, and which are peripheral. I find that many of us seem stuck in a time warp, not only as regards matters of taste, but also as regards our own growth. It’s very easy to do. We are like the readers of the Book of Hebrews. We “have become dull of hearing” (5:11). We need to be “. . . the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (5:14).

Sandy: I appreciate your question “ . . . what does this say about churches who try to target a certain demographic with their music, location, programs, etc.? Is there a correlation to focusing on the perimeter of the circle?” I confess I hadn’t given this much (if any) thought while I was writing the previous post. I believe that these goals can be seen as comparable to Paul’s desire to “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33).

Most people are outside the circle. It is our task to bring them in. We need to engage our culture without compromising truth. If peripheral issues are too rigidly held, we may prevent those outside from ever seeing the center, which is Christ. Again, Paul’s philosophy “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partner of it” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Notice that Paul did not compromise truth. He became “as” others. He did not put himself under law, nor become “without law.” Though he didn’t modify his message, he did modify his presentation to fit his “target demographic.”

So, when I think about it, I realize that being perimeter focused not only prevents real fellowship in the church, it can also become a hindrance to evangelism, which I believe is our primary task.

Mike: I appreciate your comments on judgmentalism. When we concentrate on how others fail to live up to our peripherals, we are not only not acting in love, we are hindering ourselves from growth in Christ-likeness.

And please forgive me for sounding judgmental. I don’t want to be. I actually grieve for my contemporaries who’ve lost sight of the center.

Bill Ball

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