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Many of you were attracted to us because we do not isolate ourselves from the world in ways which give the impression that we think we are better than others. We call this "relating". You liked us because you felt you could relate to us; whereas you could not relate to a more churchy approach.

The distinguishing marks of a churchie could be summed up in the word "respectability". This desire for respectability often makes them seem too stuck up for common, working class people like ourselves. We have only been able to eat with the "publicans and sinners" because we try to speak the language and in other ways conform to the lifestyle of the people we are trying to reach.

But "relating" can easily be confused with "compromising", and this article will attempt to explain the difference.

First, there are some things which are simply immoral. We cannot do them. And there are other things which are essential parts of our faith. We cannot stop doing them. We need to pray, be honest with God and with ourselves, and we need to stay sexually pure, unselfish, and loving toward others. If we give in on these issues in order to "relate" we will end up compromising our faith.

I'll give an example. We see nothing intrinsically wrong with supposedly "dirty" words. If the people you are with refer to faeces as shit or urine as piss, then call it shit and piss, and don't worry about what the churchies will say about us for doing that. But if people around you are using rude language to express hatred, or to express disrespect for God or for women, then we must refuse to be drawn into such conversation. We may even need to speak up in opposition to it.

Another example. We're not afraid to discuss matters relating to sexuality, but we are committed to staying away from sexual contact with anyone whom we are not married to. Being frank and open about sex could be considered "relating", but deliberately giving the impression that we have loose morals could be considered compromising.

Our single members have to deal with this in one form or another every day. It can be tempting to flirt with temptation while witnessing on the streets, and to be drawn into a path which could easily lead to sexual immorality. In such situations, there comes a point where they must part with the popularity that comes from "relating" and face rejection on the basis of genuine Christian principles.

So far we have talked about objective, visible behaviour or conversation; but the second area where relating can be confused with compromising is much more difficult to detect. It requires the utmost honesty on the part of the individual involved. The reason for that is because this area relates to your motives.

This business of motives is such a fundamental principle in all that we teach, that it should be given a lot of prayerful thought.

We need to consider (very honestly) what our secret motives are in relating to others. There are many things we can legitimately do (or not do) in an effort to relate. But they could still be wrong if our motives are wrong.

We don't, for example, do things like talking about how much we pray or fast or help the poor. When churchies do this (as they often do) they alienate themselves unnecessarily from others. Worst still, doing things like praying in public, or talking about when we have fasted, represent actions that are clearly disobedient to the teachings of Jesus. So it just happens that our non-churchy behaviour helps us to relate better to people in the world. By actually hiding, or smoothing over some of the differences between ourselves and the world, we are able to get closer to the people whom we are trying to reach.

But it is easy (especially when totally surrounded by non-religious people) for us to become intoxicated with that acceptance, and to become lazy about taking a truly Christian stand in other areas, especially when it threatens to take away our popularity. We must resist this tendency.

One area where confused motives can crop up is with personal appearance. Pride is such a universal and subtle thing that we must be on guard against the temptation to embrace an image for selfish reasons rather than for unselfish reasons. Our image needs to be nothing more than a "disguise".

We are in this world, and so we work at identifying with, or relating to the customs and culture of the world, including the way that we dress. But we become of this world when we become dependent on a particular image. When that happens, then we have lost the battle, for our image has become our god. It is far safer to have the nerdiest most churchy image in the world and be right with God, than to let some worldly image deceive us into taking on the spiritually rebellious values of the world around us.

Ask yourself whether your dress, hairstyle, and other mannerisms are aimed at making others feel more comfortable in your presence, or whether you are more concerned with making yourself feel accepted in their presence. It may not be possible for us to demand that you have the confidence that it takes to relate without any compromising at all, but if you recognise a weakness in this area, then you may need to seek more acceptance by your brothers and sisters in Christ, even if it means alienating yourself from the unbelieving world. If necessary, you may have to actually withdraw (if possible) from some situations where you find yourself getting confused spiritually.

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