2 Corinthians 10:7…
As humans we have a tendency to prefer style over substance.
We see it in every arena of life. How someone ‘looks’ creates a first impression which is often so difficult to overcome it becomes impossible to overcome. We think we have ‘love at first sight,’ which often isn’t love at all, but some form of lust. We often vote based at least in part on how a candidate looks, the tone of their voice, or how they carry themselves with ‘confidence.’
Advertising preys upon this principle, and all marketing is first and foremost based upon how a product appears in the market. Home shows teach us perfectly serviceable appliances must be replaced because we cannot live with ‘harvest gold,’ and must have stainless, (and now it must be brushed stainless.) We may say “form follows function,” but we rarely practice it. We most-often prefer what grabs our attention over what may do us the most good.
When this sort of shallow carnality is brought into the church, much harm may – and probably will – result.
In the modern age, we see a rampant dependency upon style in the church becoming a major influence upon how church is conducted. We see the impact of the world upon the church to a greater degree than we see the impact of the church upon the world. This may be because those in charge see the Church in decline, and so, (in all good conscience,) church leaders begin look outside the doors to see what attracts people and seek to emulate some of those attractions.
But the problem only begins with those who initially reach out by employing some worldly attractions for the sake of the gospel. The problem grows exponentially when those who follow on, (who were some of those attracted by the appeal to worldliness in the first place,) become leaders in the church – and stylish appearance – rather than the power of God is all they know.
Now you have pastors looking more like motivational speakers than simple teachers of God’s Word, while seeking to meet the ‘felt needs’ of those who have been drawn in by the worldly attraction in order to attempt to hold their attention and their financial contributions necessary to maintain the stylish appearances. It is a death spiral for the church, and it repeats, it seems, in every generation.
While we may think this problem very modern, and even perhaps a symptom of life in these entertainment-hungry United States, we read here the problem existed from the foundation of the Church. While we concern ourselves over what we perceive to be the ‘decline of the Church,’ they concerned themselves with the ‘incline of the Church,’ seeking to employ worldly methods to attract and hold worldly people the same way we see it happening today.
And Paul’s ministry to the church at Corinth, which concerned itself with Godly content, was under constant threat of being set aside for the sake of style. When Paul’s simple presentation of the Word of God was deemed ‘weak,’ backsliding was the result.