Charisma News' Jennifer LeClaire recently reported on a live television sex show that apparently has a pastor—a pastor who holds a doctorate in counseling and leads a national Christian women's ministry—serving as a judge on the show. Then there's the other example of a pastor's wife who is reportedly employed as an exit counselor in an abortion clinic. Both claim that "God is leading them." God leading someone to be a judge on a secular sex show is like Him leading someone to join the pornography industry to lead some to Christ. This makes no sense.
Jennifer then asked, "Is the Church Compromising the Gospel in the Name of Impacting Culture?" I would say, "ABSOLUTELY!" Without genuine guidance from the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves in the same place as Samson—he knew not that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him (cf. Judges 16:20).
Before asking if something is culturally relevant or permissible, we should ask, "Does it glorify Christ?" Is it consistent with our Christian character? Will it send the right message? Will it cause others to stumble or think less of the gospel?
Make sure, without a shadow of doubt, that God is leading you, because many people allow money and recognition to influence judgment. God wants us to reach out to our community, but not if we fall when we reach. Use wisdom, think things through, and ask, "Is God truly directing me? Are my actions consistent with Scripture?"
Seek godly counsel on a regular basis from mature believers who can help direct your steps, examine motives and offer sincere advice. All that we do and say should reflect the integrity and seriousness of our message (cf. Titus 2:7).
Look to the Word first and foremost for direction, wisdom and discernment. Many of the questions about being culturally relevant could be answered if we simply looked to God's Word instead of the world for the answers. God's Word is truth for all men for all time.
God guides those who are willing to follow (see John 7:17). If God seems distant, Bible study boring and church irrelevant, or if legalism, judgmentalism and dead formalism are setting in, it may be that the work of the Holy Spirit is being suppressed. More change will be seen outwardly as the Holy Spirit is given more power to rule inwardly. Sanctification is God's job, but obedience is ours.
Brokenness, humility and full surrender provide fertile ground for the Spirit. But don't confuse a Spirit-filled life with sheer emotionalism or an emotional experience. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones cautions: "Never interpret Scripture in the light of your experiences, but rather, interpret your experiences in the penetrating light of Scripture." For instance, we shouldn't make decisions, such the ones mentioned earlier based on emotions alone. Emotions aren't necessarily a reflection of a right decision, but a right decision can affect emotions, such as feeling peace once a decision is made. We should thank God for our emotions, but they are the caboose not the engine of the train, so to speak. They follow, but rarely should they lead.
A.W. Tozer said that if the influence of the Holy Spirit were removed from the early church, 90 percent of the work would have ceased. Unfortunately, it appears that if the Holy Spirit were removed from the church today, 90 percent of the work would continue. Sadly, the only thing holding many churches together today is social activity not the activity of the Spirit.
The conviction of the Holy Spirit is a true gift from God. Sadly, many people ignore it, yet they say that God is leading them to do this or that. But all too often, they find that they made a very poor decision. What happened? The Holy Spirit didn't lead them—human nature, pride and emotions probably did.
For instance, we all know people, perhaps ourselves, who mistakenly jumped into a dating relationship or marriage, took a job, spent money frivolously, moved or left a church believing that God's Spirit was leading. I'm amazed at the number of people who don't have a servant's heart, who don't read the Word, who don't spend time in prayer, who don't display humility and yet think the Spirit is leading them. Let me be clear: God directs us to make "wise" decisions that correspond with His Word. Disobedience leads to disappointment. In hindsight I have a feeling that both of these ladies will eventually regret their decisions.
Please understand, I'm not suggesting that God doesn't lead people to take radical steps of faith; He does. That's why it's important to first ask, "Is God truly guiding me?" before making an important decision.
One of the best ways to know if God is truly guiding you is to stay, pray, and obey—stay in His Word; pray for guidance; obey His principles. I pray that these two women would seriously reconsider their current direction in light of Scripture.