Concerning “Soul Patches” and “Leisure Suits”

There are some things a person hates to admit. For example, I once owned several polyester leisure suits, enjoyed listening to Andy Gibb, and never missed Welcome Back, Kotter! on television. Those things were a part of the culture of the 1970s and it is probably a good thing that they now lay on the ash heap of history, and that, my friends, is the “sticky wicket” of cultural relevancy: By the time one embraces culture, it has already moved on.

Cultural relevance is considered by some in the church to be a prerequisite of reaching a fallen world with the truth of the Gospel, however, the Scriptures seem to say something totally different. We are told to be “salt and light” in a decaying and dark world. Salt is able to slow down decay because it is “different” from the meat to which it has been applied, and light is helpful because it is inherently “different” than the darkness it dispels. The world does not need a church that is a mirror image of itself in order to hear the Gospel.

Our worship services do not need to sound like a U2 or Toby Keith concert, our sermons do not need to resemble a David Letterman monologue, and our church organization does not to look like a Fortune 500 corporate chart. It would be much wiser to listen to the words of the Lord in Jeremiah 6: 16 where He says, “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

If our calling in life is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” we must ask ourselves where we can find the direction to do just that, and the answer is to be found in the second answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “The word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.” So, if I were you, I wouldn’t focus on “fitting in” with the transient culture of this age, but focus on the ordinary and timeless means of Word, Prayer, and Sacraments in our gathered assemblies of corporate worship.

Feel free to wear the “soul patch,” and I really have no problem with your tattoo (although it is important to remember that those things are permanent), but remember that it will not be long before it will join my leisure suits, and my 8 Track Tape of Andy Gibb in a box on the back wall of a storage building. (I am speaking metaphorically, I realize the soul patch and tatoo can not be placed in a box [although it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea]) ;^)



  1. Branson said,

    July 23, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    I listened to a radio interview a while back that touched on this topic. It talked about how sharing the gospel nowadays has turned in to “what can Jesus do for you.” The problem is that we get consumer disciples who are only interested in what they can get and care little for what they can give. And ultimately, when their congregation isn’t the hippest and coolest, they leave and go somewhere else. They’re always taught that a Savior is a pleasant life choice, not that they literally NEED a Savior.

    Like the man asked to where the parachute on the plane ride. The pilot shouldn’t say, “this parachute will improve the quality of your flight.” (although it will.) What he should be saying is “this plane is about to crash and the parachute is your only chance at survival.” Similarly, Jesus Christ came to FORGIVE SIN, and until we recognize just how sinful we are apart from Him, what he did on the cross will mean very little to us.

  2. Branson said,

    July 23, 2011 at 7:23 AM

    And I just misspelled “wear.” Forgive me, I teach math, not English

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