It is often suggested that before we can reach the world with the Gospel, we have to employ the world’s methods to proclaim Christ’s truth.
1. Candy-floss Message
Even if we are actually proclaiming the everlasting Gospel, we cheapen the importance of the message when we adopt the world’s entertainment methods to communicate the truth. Entertainment is entertainment and is generally not taken seriously by the public as a vehicle to proclaim important messages. If we adopt entertainment elements such as rock music, drama, clowns, puppets, and magicians, our message will fail to make any real moral demand upon the hearers.
If it is true that rock music (disguised as praise music and praise dancing) is the most effective medium to reach young people today, why is it that math teachers and chemistry professors don’t set their classes to heavy-beat and hip-swinging music? Why don’t politicians employ clowns and illusionists to present their political messages?
Common sense tells us that these entertainment media are not the most credible methods to communicate serious messages. A doctor, meeting an apprehensive patient, does not dress like a clown in order to tell his patient that she has cancer. If a doctor who wants to be taken seriously does not resort to this kind of light-heartedness, isn’t it folly to announce God’s message of warning and Judgment to a dying world by resorting to entertainment?
Jesus did not use the gimmicks of entertainment to proclaim his Sermon on the Mount. On the day of Pentecost, Peter did not set up a drum set or ask Mary to lead out in praise dancing to announce the resurrection of Jesus and His enthronement in Heaven. In addition, Paul did not persuade people on Mars’ hill using gospel magicians.
We are self-deceived if we believe that drums, disco lights, costumes, illusions, and loud noises are capable of representing the infinite holiness and mercy of God to a lost generation. Those of us who resort to these worldly gimmicks can only do so because we serve a different god from the One the apostles worshipped. The apostle Paul makes it clear that the preeminent method of proclaiming spiritual truth is by the spoken word. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 25).
2. Smoke-screen Scriptures
It is a mistake for us to think that the world will embrace our message when we use worldly methods. The New Testament tells us that when Christ came to the world, “the world knew Him not” (John 1:10), for He was “not of this world” (John 8:23). What makes us believe that we can succeed where Christ failed?
Jesus Himself mentioned that Christians “are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (John 17:16; cf. vv. 9, 14). He stated emphatically that the works of this world are evil (John 7:7). He said that true believers are not of the world, and prayed that they should be kept from its evil ways (John 17:14,15). Because the Spirit of God stands against the spirit of the world (1 Corinthians 2:12), the Gospel should not be presented in such a way as to be coupled with the standards of the world. “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed . . . that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
The apostles also taught that “friendship with the world is hatred toward God” (James 4:4) and that the world “pollutes” the believer (cf. 1:27). Therefore, Christians are urged: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15, 16).
We depart from Biblical teaching when we think that today’s so-called gospel rock, gospel clowns, gospel magicians, and other forms of gospel entertainment can legitimately be employed to communicate spiritual truth. The Scriptures teach that the world is on its own, “without hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12). Therefore, instead of borrowing worldly methods to reach the world, Christians are sent forth like the apostle Paul, “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18