Our practice of lending Jesus to our culture results in a number of crisis points for the church. The first, which we looked at yesterday, is that we turn Jesus into someone that we don't recognize, and it becomes hard to get Him back.
A second challenge of lending Jesus to our culture is that it actually hinders our ability to draw others into the church.
It seems like the opposite would be true. In fact, that's why we do it - so that we can present Jesus to our culture in as non-threatening and highly-relevant a way as possible so that perhaps they will join us on a Sunday morning and get to know Him better. Perhaps they will ascribe membership to our community and turn their hearts toward God. Perhaps this culture, who is getting to know Jesus through our willingness to lend Him to them, will become part of the movement of God in our world and expand His reach even further than we can imagine.
That's why we lend Him so freely. We have all of these grand ideas about how this is going to be a gigantic boost for our evangelistic efforts. All it takes is first convincing the world that Jesus is not so unlike them after all, that He looks more like them - and cares more about the things they care about - than they might think.
But wait...didn't I say this is precisely not what is actually happening? I did. And here's why:
When you convince the world that Jesus is a lot like them, how do you then convince them that they need Jesus?
How do you convict them of their desperate need for grace when the God you are offering them is essentially the same kind of being that they are?
We try to create a difference between the two, we try to highlight what it means that Jesus is God and that God is sovereign, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. We try to establish what it means that God is God and Christ, His Son, is Lord of all. But what happens when your starting point is that Jesus is not so different from the men of today is that you end up convincing the men of today not that God is God...but that they are gods.
They are just like Jesus. They think just like Him. They have the same heart for the world that He does. They have the same cultural engagement that He does. It's not a far step from there for a man to start thinking himself righteous, to start thinking himself god-like.
And certainly, a man who is already a god does not need a Lord.
The point is that the more we make Jesus look like the world, the harder it is to convince the world to come to Jesus. The harder it is to convince them that He has anything to offer them. That they need anything that He has. Though we think we're bridging the divide when we loan Jesus to our culture, we're actually making it deeper, wider, longer, harder to cross. We are creating more space between God and men by trying to lend Jesus straight into the muck of our culture. We are doing exactly the opposite of what we think we're doing.
This is just another reason why lending Jesus to our culture is creating a crisis point for the church.