In Exodus, we read the account of Moses consecrating his brother Aaron, and Aaron's sons, to the position of High Priest over Israel. God gave Moses and Aaron specific instructions on how to prepare for the ministry and how to direct worship and sacrifice. As the new priests are making offerings to God and God is responding in full sight of the people, we read that two of Aaron's newly ordained sons present an unauthorized fire before the Lord and are killed with fire from heaven. This seems to be a very harsh reaction from God, when, after all, the young men were offering worship to God. God's reaction is justified as He is establishing a separation between what is holy and what is profane. The fire the sons of Aaron were offering was not prescribed by God but was most likely part of pagan practices back in Egypt. What should have been a sacred day of celebration was made very somber by the fact that the sons of Aaron chose to bring the old unacceptable practices and combine them with that which was holy.
God took the Israelites out of Egypt for the specific purpose of creating a nation of people set apart to proclaim His name in the earth. The religious practices of the Egyptians were detestable to God as the Egyptians worshiped a multitude of false deities. The people had attempted to incorporate some of those practices at the foot of Mt. Sinai a few weeks earlier and it ended very badly for them as God brought a plague upon the nation that killed thousands. Now, it appears that the newly anointed priests are once again attempting to bring a little of the old sinful practices into the worship experience.
God's reaction is swift and definitive. There is no doubt about how God viewed the son's of Aaron introducing pagan practices to a holy worship service. God commanded Aaron and his other sons to not mourn for their loss and to let it be a lesson for them to distinguish between the clean and he unclean. Today, so many churches and ministers feel compelled to mix the unholy with the holy in an attempt to make the church more comfortable to unbelievers. Church should not be comfortable to unbelievers, it should be a place where they are convicted of sin and see God as a judge who wants to forgive and restore them. The emerging church movement, the seeker church, or what ever you choose to call it, purposely brings the world into the church, referencing popular culture as a means to make a point. Unfortunately, these references are often to songs, movies or television programs that are not appropriate in any way. In an attempt to win the lost, these references are used without any disclaimer, leaving the congregant to believe these songs, shows and films are acceptable to the believer. When the church begins to open the door to cultural references that glorify sin and do not condemn that sin, a mixed message, at best is presented. The biggest danger is leading people away from holiness.
God has given us many examples in His word in reference to how He wants us to worship, behave and interact with others. Some of those lessons are sated emphatically and some are demonstrated by the real life events recorded in scripture. The question we must ask is, "why did this happen and why was it recorded in the Bible." Every word in the Bible serves a specific purpose, ordained by God, to teach us valuable lessons.
God has shown us over and over again that He wants His people to be holy and separate from the culture of sin. The Israelites were commanded to not mix with the pagan nations in the promised land. The Church is commanded to "be holy as your Father in heave is holy." Holiness is not a suit we put on for church once or twice a week but a daily lifestyle choice. The church should be in the business of encouraging and promoting holiness, not bringing the unholy in to make a point.
Using popular culture to find relevance will only lead the church to further irrelevance, as there will be little to distinguish the believer from the unbeliever. The mixing of the profane with the holy pollutes the holy and dishonors God. The role of the Church is to honor God and equip the saints to works of service. The job of saints is to make disciples. Nowhere does the Bible call us to blend in with sinners or employ cultural references that endorse sin to bring sinners to Christ. In attempting to make Christianity cool the church becomes lukewarm and a lukewarm church leads people to the fires of hell.