“First thing’s first, I’m the realest.”
— Early 21st century poet and philosopher Iggy Azalea
A while back, I was having a discussion with my spiritual adviser and brother-in-law Jeremy about the similarities between the Christian church and Apple Computers.
We agreed that Apple offers something more than computers. Maybe a good word for it is “coolness.” That’s not completely right, but you know what I mean. It’s something people think Apple has more than anyone else. Whatever that thing is, that “Appleness,” it’s the inimitable thing that sets Apple apart.
We wondered what the church had to offer that was like that. If you had to pick one thing that the Christian church offers, or could offer, that would set it apart from everything else in the world, what would it be?
This is not a trick question where I’m waiting to juke you and say, “C’mon guys! It’s Jesus!” We all know that that’s the point of church, but that’s not the question I’m asking.
I’m asking more about the personality of the church. What should stand out as the trait that most clearly epitomizes the character of the church?
I think that secret sauce for the church, above all else, is unwavering commitment to truth.
In a world that is becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea that truth is whatever you decide it is, the most radical, revolutionary act is to declare that there is such a thing as reality, and it can’t be ignored or sidestepped. And it’s all the more appropriate for the church, as the earthly representative of the eternal God, to make their top priority the bold declaration of His eternal truth. If anything will set us apart from the rest of the world, it’s that.
In any controversial matter, when the church soft pedals God’s truth for the sake of expedience or popular acceptance, then it loses some of that thing that sets it apart; its “Appleness.” Instead it becomes just like any other cloying social climber, yearning for a seat at the cool kids’ table.
“Hey, Mr. Grumpy Pants,” you may say, “What about ‘love’ or ‘charity?’ Shouldn’t those be high priorities for a church?”
Yes indeedy, they should. And it is in no way loving or charitable to allow someone to rest in the belief that the sand castles of his comfortable delusion will stand against the 100-story-high tsunami of righteous judgement that will be brought to bear by the Creator of all reality.
I realize that the Apple/church comparison breaks down a little bit here. The hypnotic allure of an Apple store doesn’t exist because Apple is eager to tell its customers hard truths. “Your computer crashes all the time because you’re careless and kind of dumb. Would you like to protect yourself with an AppleCare plan?”
But if the church tries to market itself in the same way as every other company, then they become like every other company, and the church is intended for a much more special mission than that.
An inflexible commitment to Biblical truth will drive some people away, it’s true. But it will also make it clear that we believe what we say we believe. All those things that we say are the word of God will seem more like the word of God if we treat them like they’re the word of actual, no-fooling God. And in the long run, steadfast commitment will do more to rally seekers to the church than any touchy-feely marketing campaigns.
It’s hard to find a reality you can count on anymore, and I think people want that, even though they may be afraid to admit it. If we become the sole suppliers of truth, I think we’re walking into a booming market.