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"Relevant" is defined by Webster's Dictionary as “pertinent, to the point.” It’s got to be relevant! Has anyone ever said that to you?
As a pastor, I have heard this declaration made on far more occasions than I care to hear it. In fact, when this demand is made by someone who has regularly attended church for many years, I find it to be rather discouraging. You might ask why this is so. After all, just ask around and you’ll find that the pursuit of relevance is all the rage among many Christians today. Many of them insist that being “relevant” is really important, because we now live in a postmodern society. But that statement raises another question, doesn’t it? Why do we call today’s culture “postmodern”? To put it plainly, being “postmodern” means that most people in the world today believe there is no such thing as absolute truth.
Huh? Well, if that’s true, faithful Christians who believe the Holy Bible to be the inspired Word of God have a real problem, don’t they? If you can’t trust in the Word of God, then who can you trust…and in whom can you believe?
Think about that carefully! The Holy Bible is that unchanging Word which God calls upon the preachers of his church to preach, so that people may hear and believe. According to the Holy Bible, what are preachers to preach, and what are people to hear and believe? The renowned preacher we know as St. Paul describes that to us in his letter to the Christians at Corinth, when he writes, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified… that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:2, 2:5).
The Apostle Paul also writes that Christ sent him “to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17b, 18). Did you hear what the Holy Bible says about eternal salvation? The word of the cross is the power of God, and that power is what saves you.
OK, I’ll bet you think I had gotten off the subject here. What does all this have to do with being relevant? For many, being relevant means simply “shaking things up”…“out with the old and in with the new.” In other words, let’s get with the times! Historic liturgies that have faithfully served the Christian Church since the second century are suddenly deemed to be outdated and irrelevant. Modernized styles of worship are introduced. Pipe organs and choirs are replaced by guitars, synthesizers, drum kits and praise bands. There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with the use of updated worship formats. Nor is there anything improper about employing the use of various musical instruments. Holy Scripture prohibits none of these things. However, we all need to remember that worship is not about what we do for God, but rather a faithful reminder of what God has done for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And that message does not change. That’s why great care must be exercised to avoid sacrificing the unchanging Word of God on the altar of change.
After all, what is the purpose of the church? St. Paul would write that, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The meaning of this passage ought to be clear to everyone who believes that the Holy Bible is the Word of God. Jesus established the church on earth for our benefit until the day of his final return. Above all else, the purpose of his church is to preach the Word of God as the Word of God commands it to be preached. That Word cannot be obscured; the Word cannot be compromised or marginalized in order to please those whom we would have to hear it.
What is that Word? Look at those passages from the pages of Scripture which have been quoted here, and you’ll see that the Holy Bible makes it very clear! That Word is the message of the cross. Otf course, the cross does not provide us with a very pleasant message to hear. The cross declares a blood-soaked message that reveals the divine nature of God’s great love for a fallen world through the death of his beloved son, Jesus Christ. Because this message is designed to remind sinners of their sin, and of the only remedy for that sin – which God alone can and does provide for us in the cross of Jesus Christ – that message can be hard to hear. Yet be heard it must!
This is the Word of God, the wisdom of God and the power of God. And, therefore, this is the message that saves you! “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Yes, times change. But God’s Word does not. There is but one Biblical definition of relevancy. Relevancy is found in the cross of Jesus Christ, and nowhere else.
Believe that Jesus suffered and died upon the cross to pay for the sin which had separated you from God. Trust in the cross of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, for life and for salvation. In this alone can you trust, and in this alone can you believe.