Everyone wants to be accepted. It is a terrible feeling when you are an outsider or you are made to feel like you don't belong. I have a lot of experience with that, having lived through some very awkward teen years. People look at me now and say "But you are a pastor"; a responsibility I matured into but even as an adult I was socially awkward. Thankfully I had friends who didn't care and I eventually matured in my abilities. But I know that strong desire to want to be accepted and not rejected.
Perhaps that is why so many churches are trying so hard to be relevant in this world. They build their programs around things that will attract people from the world, make the church more likeable, acceptable, relevant in this age. I understand why the leadership is doing this but they are asking the wrong questions and seeking the wrong solutions. We need to first discover the right question and it is not "How do we stay relevant in this world?" Relevancy in this world is not the problem and demonstrates a wrong orientation.
We are not in this place to make friends or to prove our worth to the world. We aren't even here to attract people, that's God's job:
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44)
We were sent to make disciples. We are who we are in Jesus and there is no compromise to make ourselves more attractive to the world. The fact is we do not belong to this place so the result is we are going to look awkward in the world. Accept that fact and move on. We will have people who hate us because of what we do, what we say and who we represent. It doesn't mean we look for a fight; the Bible clearly says that, as far as it depends on us, we are to live peaceful lives. But things are changing so fast in our society now that clear distinctions are being made between followers of Jesus and the world. Our decision is simply which will we be part of going forward.
Paul warned the Galatians away from those believers who wanted to compromise who they were in Jesus to avoid persecution:
"Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ." (Galatians 6:12)
The Word tells us that in the end days many believers will be deceived by the teachings of demons, that they will abandon Jesus but a remnant would remain. I look at our compromising Church, the Church that wants to avoid being seen as socially awkward, the Church that wants to be relevant and acceptable in this world and I fear for those who have begun to follow the doctrines of this world instead of Jesus Christ. I understand that feeling of wanting to be accepted, to be liked, to be included but that is no excuse for abandoning Jesus with compromise.
Never once did Jesus tell us to compromise to save ourselves. In fact he made it clear that the world would hate us and persecute us. Then he told us not to be afraid because he has overcome this world. The apostle Paul reminded us that no matter what happens to us, our encouragement is the reality that nothing can separate us from Jesus' love.
My friend, don't let go of the Word of God, don't let anyone dismiss parts of it or twist what it says. Stay true to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to sound doctrine and run away from those who will try to convince you that the doctrines of this world are acceptable to Jesus. Stay the course of faith, trust God and, no matter what happens in the days to come, keep your eyes on the goal. The goal is not a peaceful retirement with plenty of money to enjoy yourself but it is to faithfully finish the race here so we can enter the rest of Jesus in the age to come.