|Sunset in Monroe (8/18/18)|
In Romans 12:1-2 we (plural; viz., the Church) are warned to not be conformed to the values of the world. We are, as C.S. Lewis once instructed, to keep our noses sniffing for the "inner cesspool" that is the way of our world.
We can assess the Church's level of world-conformation by understanding the world's prevailing formation.
- Understand the world's prevailing value-formation.
- Ask: are these values godly, ungodly, or neutral? (For example, in the Midwest American culture I'm in, many wear plain t-shirts. So do I. Wearing a plain t-shirt is neither godly nor ungodly, but value-neutral.)
- If prevailing cultural values are ungodly, assess if your church has taken them on. If so, detoxify. Refuse to allow the world to control you and shape you into its mold.
For example, consider sociologist Jean Twenge's The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. Twenge writes:
Current trends "all are rooted in a single underlying shift in the American psychology: the relentless rise of narcissism in our culture. Not only are there more narcissists than ever, but non-narcissistic people are seduced by the increasing emphasis on
- material wealth,
- physical appearance,
- celebrity worship, and
- attention seeking."
(Twenge, pp. 1-2)
The more a church's leaders emphasize, by word or by lifestyle, these four values, the greater the distance between their church and the Real Church Jesus came to establish.
"The United States is currently suffering from an epidemic of narcissism. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines an epidemic as an affliction “affecting…a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population,” and narcissism more than fits the bill."" (P. 2)
World-conformed churches and their leaders are infected carriers of narcissism and entitlement.