“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”(I Corinthians 2:1-5 ESV)
In order to “connect” with the world, do we have to agree with them in order to be relevant? Must we “dumb down” the Gospel in order to get people to believe? Do we have to believe like the world? Is there a need to act like the world, talk like the world, or do anything like the world so they will hear us?
Yes, in one sense God did. He became one of us to bear our sin and transgression. He identified with our humanity so as to free us from our burden and the debt we owed God.
So I agree relevance is important, in that aspect alone. However, though Jesus became one of us, He still lived according to the righteous decrees of His Father.
If Jesus showed up today like He did 2000 years ago, acting like He did, He would be labeled as uncaring and irrelevant, outdated, narrow-minded, and absolutely no fun!
What did Jesus do? What did Paul, Peter, or the rest of the gang do in order to be relevant?
Isn’t God’s Word ALWAYS relevant, when ministered in the power of the Spirit? Doesn’t God know how to connect with people’s hearts?
Preachers, I think “we” have become more professional than prophetic, relying on our ability to sermonize, dramatize, and anesthetize people to say, believe, and feel what we want them to, rather than relying on the Holy Spirit to do His deep and authentic work! Of course, “we” say we’re trying to reach a certain group of people and we don’t want to run them off with wild fire. That means “we” believe we have a more sure and trusted way of “ministry” than God! Isn’t that a form of pride; we can do better than God?
Just because people may not “see” the relevance of the gospel, doesn’t mean the gospel is unimportant, inappropriate, or pointless!
“Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-5 NLT)
Somehow, THE gospel must be proclaimed in the power of the Spirit of God. May we not “veil” the gospel in a shroud of “relevance”.
Paul describes the gospel in these passages: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-8 ESV)
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 ESV)
So what would it have been like if God tried the “relevance” trick on people like Paul, Peter, and some of the others? For instance, when Peter was along side the Sea of Galilee, how did Jesus address him? “Oh, excuse me, sir. Peter, right? Well, I’ve been watching you toil all night, trying to make a decent living. Fishing’s hard work, isn’t it? You know, I’ve been thinking. How would you like to get out of the fishing business and get into a different line of work? A chance to make money while making a difference in other’s lives. Plus, no more long nights and smelly clothes. You see, I’m developing this ministry team and would really like to talk with you. You owe it to yourself and family to check out the opportunity. Come by the office tomorrow morning and we’ll discuss the deal.”
I don’t believe that was how Jesus presented Himself to Peter. No, He said, “Follow Me.” How relevant is that? “You, Peter, follow Me.”
But here we are, with the same Jesus, the same Holy Spirit, the same message (or is it?), and we feel we must apologize for intruding into someone’s life with THE ONLY message that can give them hope and new life!
Picture Saul on the road to Damascus, riding his horse, when suddenly a bright light from Heaven shines on Saul, knocking him to the ground. Jesus’ voice is heard saying, “Excuse me, Saul. I hope you weren’t hurt falling like you did. I’d like to discuss a few of the finer points of the Old Testament with you, if you don’t mind. If you would understand these finer points, I really believe you’d begin to see things a little differently. Got the time?”
No, actually Jesus was like, “Saul, Saul, how long are you going to ignore the witness of My Spirit in your heart? It’s time for you to decide. Either believe Me now, and leave My people alone, or you’ll find yourself down permanently! What will it be?”
Paul, ministering in Acts 13, said to Elymas, “You child of satan! How long will you seek to pervert the way of the Lord? You will be blind for a season!” And he was.
And his boss, the deputy, believed, being astonished at the doctrine
of the Lord!
Maybe today’s church has embraced the “relevance” machine because it isn’t convinced Jesus IS the only way.
The Gospel is a matter of life and death! It’s Good News to everyone! No one has to live separated from fellowship with God any longer. No one needs to live in bondage to the fear of death any longer. No one! Ever!
Since life and death, love and hate, heaven and hell, living with God or living without Him is relevant to EVERYONE, I believe it’s time we act like it’s true.
If He REALLY changes lives, act like it! Let someone know. If He is REALLY the ONLY WAY to the FATHER, act like it. Lay aside the “relevant” mumbo-jumbo and declare the Truth of God’s Word in the power of His love.
Let’s quit preaching the “it’s okay to wait and decide” message, under the guise of relevance.
It’s much more important than that!