Making dinner this evening, I opened up my favorite olive oil spread and realized that it was now whipped.

At some point, a group locked away in a corporate office park somewhere, figured consumers would love the new, improved, more spreadable spread. They’d worked hard to perfect this latest incarnation of the product, and were proud of the results.

Here’s how I saw their triumph: same size container, now with just more air.

Do I truly believe that the manufacturers of what used to be my favorite spread slaved night and day to better the product that I now held in my hand? That engineers worked feverishly to improve the silky smoothness? That marketing convened panel after panel to test all their hard work?


Here’s what the fly on the wall of some mucky-muck’s office heard:

Mucky-Muck: “Rodney, we’ve got PPP.”

Rodney: “Yeah, ‘price point pressure.’ Engineering’s on it.”

Mucky-Muck: “The usual?”

Rodney: “They blow some nitrogen in and we’re golden, boss.”

Mucky-Muck: “Make it so, Number One.”

And thus is born yet another compromise.

Now you can contend I’m just a spoiled American consumer griping about non-dairy spreads. You’d be right, of course. No points for stating the obvious.

But in a much deeper way, I’m not upset about the spread. I’m upset about what it says about us.

Somewhere, the people behind the air-laden spread are going home to their wives and kids having never once considered that they sold a little piece of their soul that afternoon. Now repeat that same tiny moral death a million times over in America today. Little concessions to the lowest common denominator, to the cheap, to the compromise.

What’s truly sad is that not a person reading this today is immune. Not me and not you. We all get mired in the “Oh well, no one will notice” shtick until we don’t feel the twinge of guilt anymore. It’s all in a day’s work, and the day’s work counts more than anything else, right? Keep your nose clean, even if no one’s ever is.

I think these concessions are what’s wrong with our country.

Somewhere, someplace, sometime, it stopped being about principles. It stopped being about a God outside of us.It's your choice and mine Instead, it became the little deaths each of us suffers when we compromise on things that are dear to the heart of God. Those little deaths that no longer hurt because repetition numbed the sting.

A person doesn’t get a hard heart overnight. Yes, the raw materials for one lurk within all of us. No, a hard heart comes from compromising day in and day out on those tiny decisions that eaither bring us nearer to God or separate us from Him.

I honestly believe that people used to be more thoughtful when faced with compromise. I’m not necessarily saying that the compromise never occurred, only that we today think so little on matters of importance. In many ways our past compromise renders us incapable of even understanding what is important and what is inconsequential. The trite and lightweight takes precedent over considering what might destroy a future generation.

“The shareholders are hungry for a better quarter next quarter. If it means we burn the building down to make our numbers, then let’s do it.” Such a CEO would not last long in a rational world, but I suspect ours instead waits with baited breath from said CEO and his “I Did It My Way!” book, I Burned Down the Company and Made Everyone a Mint. Just don’t read the final chapter wherein the same CEO asks, “Hey, where did my yak bladder leather chair go?”

Are we operating like this in the Church? In what ways? And how do we stop the compromise when compromise is what we have become?

Because we can’t keep pumping air into the spread because one day someone’s going to open the container and find nothing but air.

18 thoughts on “Compromise

  1. David Riggins

    That is one of my favorite album covers. What I saw was a variety of facial expressions: The look of one-eyed surprise on the despot, of anger on the enforcer, and the look of mixed terror and concern on the face of the disciple pulling on Christ’s robe. “No empty words and no white lies. No token prayers, no compromise” is the verse the album title comes from, and is as relevant today as ever. The song is “Make my life a prayer to you.”

    Ron Block wrote something in a similar vein, “A Living Prayer” which he explained:

    “To be a living prayer is really to be a walking manifestation of God’s love and character; we are all meant to be that. …What Living Prayer doesn’t mean is that we are to try to be good and avoid doing bad, to try to be a witness, to try to be Christ-like. What it does mean is that we cease from our own effort, our own works, our own labor, that we “enter His rest” (Hebrews) and trust Christ within us to live through us. C.S. Lewis called it ‘gentle possession.’ The apostle Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives within me.” Real Christianity and real spirituality are nothing but Christ living through the human by the human’s reliant submission to Him.”

    Another favorite song of mine is from Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. “Shades of Gray” has the memorable lines:

    “It was easy then to tell truth from lies
    Selling out from compromise.”

    Once upon a time, compromise was considered an effective tool for solving seemingly intractable differences. So perhaps we should call a spade a spade and ask ourselves: “Have we sold out?”

    • David,

      My favorite Christian album of all-time, with nothing even coming a close second, is Green’s No Compromise. Christian music needs someone like Keith Green so badly, an artist who can serve as a prophetic voice while still retaining fun and playfulness. Derek Webb is about as close as we get on that former need, but he completely lacks the latter. Nor does he seem to have the sheer presence that Green had.

  2. “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat? The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works” (Amos 8:4-7 KJV).

    Jesus was whipped, brother! Remember that when you pick up your next bottle of Spreadable Anointing Oil!

  3. Jake

    >> Are we operating like this in the Church? In what ways? And how do we stop the compromise when compromise is what we have become?

    Com pro mise – a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands (

    If we agree on this definition, then we must ask “What is the original claim we are modifying or adjusting?” What are we moving from, and what are we moving to?

    I am somewhat of a church history buff. Many people talk about wanting to re-capture the “Acts Chapter 2” church. Can’t be done. Too much has changed in our society from that ancient one. But even if it could be recaptured is that the “model” church? Is that what we are compromising?

    Church history shows us the church out of necessity has adapted to her environment through out her existence. Is this compromise? Is the church a living organism or a static one?

    Dan, this is a great topic. I don’t know the answers to these questions but look forward to what others have to say.


    Regarding the hypothetical conversation the mucky-mucks had about the olive oil spread: Certainly this happens throughout corporate America. However, I think it is a bit sarcastic to infer that those who do such things are selling their souls or compromising their principles. They indeed may be selling more air in their product simply to fool the consumer, or they may have conducted consumer studies and determined that their customers prefer a whipped spread that is more “spreadable”. There is an added cost to deliver this benefit. One way of passing this cost to the consumer is to sell the new, bulkier product in the original size container. Remember, the object of business is to make money.

    • Jake,

      I don’t believe that the greater portion of the Acts 2 Church can’t be recreated. Sure, back then NO ONE had heard of Jesus’ name, so obviously some portions of our evangelism will be different. If anything, we’re sort of in a mopping up mode.

      But a lot of other similarities exist. Too many to ignore. And some things are worth returning to, even if the world has changed. Not all changes are for the better.

  4. DC

    I immediately thought of the following verse:

    “…I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh… from Ezekiel 11

    “Those little deaths that no longer hurt because repetition numbed the sting.” Have our hearts become so hardened that we have lost the ability to feel when we’ve done something wrong? How easy is it to say, ‘Well, I’m not hurting anyone but myself’?

    At my company, we were recently told that the reason we are here is “to make money”. While I understand that is what businesses do and why they exist, there is also something about it that frightens me. What price are they willing to pay to make money? Am I part of that price?


    • A former college student

      A guy who works for one of the largest companies in America said it clearly in a on-site presentation for students of one of the largest American universities:

      “I’m selfish. I want my kids to have a good life. If you don’t come here to make money [meaning a 6-digit salary], don’t come”

      • Former,

        Everyone wants a better life for their kids. The question is just how far you are willing to sell your soul to get it (and also answer just how much of “for my kids” really comes down to “for me”).

    • DC,

      It’s the “money triumphs over every consideration” attitude to contributed to the demise of ethics in the modern workplace and allows those who hate capitalism to level the charges of corruption that they do.

      I live in a city dominated by one of the largest companies in the world. I suspect a third of the jobs in this city support that company directly or indirectly. Many, many Christians work for that company. But when the company pushed for political changes in the city that conflicted with the laws of God, Christians who worked for that company went utterly silent lest they lose their jobs. That should tell you everything you need to know about the state of faith in this country.

  5. Why don’t we just burn the whole country down?

    Oh, nevermind. Our Ruling Elites have already brought things to the brink of complete ruin.

    We’re slidding over the precipice;
    Unstoppable, to rocks we fall;
    We’re like a car careening,
    Pedal to the Metal,
    At 100 MPH into a brick wall.

    We’re freezing in the icecubes
    As the Titantic goes down.
    But we’ve gone too numb
    For our arms to drum
    So, muted, we drown.

    The prigs in their lifeboats
    Watch us gurgle and bubble
    As they make a another toast.

    • Oengus,

      Hey, the founders provided for revolution.

      Sadly, too many people believe that revolution is found in a junior teleprompter-reading senator from a particular Midwestern state.

      • Needless to say, I don’t write very good poetry. But here’s a possible chorus to the above:

        But come all you rednecks
        We’re gonna have some fun,
        So grab hold your Bibles
        But cling to your guns.

  6. Jeff H

    Dan, you asked: “Are we operating like this in the Church? In what ways? And how do we stop the compromise when compromise is what we have become?”

    I can definitely speak for myself in that I have to fight to keep from rationalizing away many of our Lord’s commands (my line of thought: Did he really mean that? Well, it probably doesn’t apply to me. That’s just not realistic.)

    I think the best way to stop/prevent compromise in the church is when our leaders lead by example (by the Spirit?). Do our pastors/elders give till it hurts? Do they go the extra mile? Do they live radically in the way Jesus described and the Acts church followed? Do they teach the whole gospel? When this happens, people in the church will definitely start paying attention.

  7. Jake

    I wrote the following:

    Com pro mise – a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands (

    If we agree on this definition, then we must ask “What is the original claim we are modifying or adjusting? What are we moving from, and what are we moving to?

    I am still waiting to hear what others have to say. There is a lot of hand-wringing about the current state of the church, but what is it supposed to look like? What did the church compromise? How do we get it back?

    • Jake,

      Here’s a few areas of compromise:

      1. Scholarship – We failed to purge the critical methods that came out of Germany in the 19th century and they have diluted our scholarship.

      2. Consumerism – Do I need to expound further?

      3. Industrialism – Long-time readers know that I believe that one of the worst compromises the Church made was with industrialism in the 19th century. We bought into the hype and even fueled it, despite the fact that any number of social ills got a massive boost from industrialization.

      4. The American Civil Religion – The Church in this country wed too much of its life to politics and the American Dream. Now we have a mess.

      5. {Fill in the blank} – What would you include? And how would you solve these issues?

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