Staying true to our values—yet fitting in—can be challenging. How do we remain connected culturally without compromising godly teachings? Juggling all the nuances is tricky.
I ran into this dilemma recently for a friend’s birthday party. She planned an out-of-town trip to a dinner show and reserved tickets. Unfortunately, as soon as we entered the establishment, I felt uneasy. The gloomy dining hall featured Halloween decorations, a makeshift stage, and a prominent bar lining the far side of the room.
A scantily clad waitress took our entree order. My discomfort grew, but I didn’t want to spoil my friend’s outing. The meal of skewered prime rib kebabs tasted great, and I chatted with my friend until the emcee took the stage.
The opening act did nothing to put me at ease. Profanity, vulgarity, and lewd references made me gulp. The announcer taunted the audience saying, “If any of you are uptight prudes, you can leave now.”
Not exactly the evening I had in mind. My friend looked at me, raising an eyebrow and one palm with the silent question, Do we stay?
I wanted to leave but wasn’t going to ask her to after we had driven an hour and paid. There was little chance of refund. Besides, this was her night to have fun. Shrugging in indecision, I pointed for her to make the call.
Since we were right by the stage farthest from the exit, getting up to leave would have made a scene in front of the entire audience. Who wants to be thought of as an “uptight prude?” We stayed.
Acts alternated from a mime, to dancing, to a magician. Listening to my friend’s belly laughter at the stage antics made me smile and relax. So what if the content wasn’t Christian? No one got out of hand.
Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to an ivory tower with religious elites. He traveled in the crowds and saw humanity as it was. He ate with greedy and seedy tax collectors (Matthew 9). He also had compassion on the adulterous woman and didn’t condemn her (John 8). Surely, I could find things to appreciate from the entertainment and be a loyal friend.
A juggler kept spinning plates airborne. Could I rise above circumstances without acting holier-than-thou?
Can I be in the world and bring Jesus with me? When I go to the office, how can I bring light when someone tells a joke in poor taste. When I write, do I balance creating a realistic tension and avoid graphic violence?
What do neighbors see in my lifestyle? Would they confirm Jesus is noticeably present?
Have you faced a conflict similar to mine at the birthday party? What advice might you share about how to navigate a similar circumstance?
Today’s Bible verse:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2 NIV
To study the whole passage about Jesus with the tax collectors, go to https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+9%3A9-12&version=NIV
The passage about the woman caught in adultery can be viewed at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+8%3A1-11&version=NIV