Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Being Respectable

Christianity in the United States has generally desired to be respected and respectable.  Is this Biblical?  The Scripture makes it quite clear we are not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:1,2; 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4) and we are not to be surprised if the world opposes us (John 16:1-4; 15:18-24; Matthew 10:16-25).  Therefore, if we follow Christ we really cannot expect to be respectable.  But there is a deeper problem.  Respectability implies the idea that we deserve to be respected because we keep a particular moral standard.  But Scripture says that we are sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6) saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Galatians 2:21).  This runs against the grain of the idea that there are some people or institutions that are to be respected because they make the grade. Also, we can end up doing the right thing for the wrong motive, in order to please men (Matthew 6:1-18; Galatians 1:10; Proverbs 29:25).

Now it is important here not to jump to the opposite extreme and decide to be different just to be different.  There is a point in trying to meet people where they are in order to reach them for Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19-27; Matthew 9:10-13; Luke 19:10).  But there is difference between trying to reach people where they are and accepting their standards.  Also, while we do not want to be eccentric just to be eccentric, we do need to follow the Scripture when there is a genuine conflict (Acts 4:19,20; 5:29-32; Daniel 3:16-18).

The problem with making respectability the standard is we can settle for being what the world regards as a good, moral person.  It may even scare us away from growth in Christ on the grounds of not being too fanatical.  It can also lead to self-righteousness and a tendency to look down on those who do not have this respectability. But in the current culture of the United States, where the Christian church rapidly losing its respectability, it can also lead to anger and vitriol directed toward those who no longer respect us.  In fact, I suspect that in the United States the respectability of the Christian church has been seen as a apologetic for Christianity.  Join us, and we will help you achieve your goal of respectability. But this is not the Biblical approach.  And it becomes a severe problem when our society's concept of respectability no longer matches Biblical standards. And while we should live so as not to be blamed for hypocrisy and not consistently living up to our own standards (1 Peter 4:15,16; Matthew 5:13-16; Romans 2:17-24), this does not mean living up to the world's standard of respectability. There is a real attraction to Christianity, but this is only seen by looking past the initial stumbling block that it is to those in the world (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Romans 9:32-33).


  1. Amen! Since the fall the world has never been a friend of God or His children. The crowed is on the wide road that leads to destruction.


  2. Going against the flow can be hard, but it is worth it when you are following Christ.