I’d love to know who sold Christians and clergy the bogus notion that the church somehow needs to be more “relevant” to the culture in order to win it for Christ. You can hardly escape the word in Christian circles today. It’s absolutely everywhere believers are, and is used incessantly alongside other trendy terms like “connect,” “passion,” “purpose,” “awesome” and “tolerance” – flying out the mouths of church leaders as if it were some sacred biblical principle that should be worn like a phylactery on our foreheads and proclaimed from the rooftops lest we forget and, Heaven forbid, be a contrast to the culture in which we live.
The word “relevant” is not even in the Bible – except in one so-called bible version and verse – if you can bear to call The Message a Bible. But, the amazing irony of its brief appearance there, is that it points out perfectly why Christians should avoid being relevant:
“Don’t be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege.” – Matthew 7:6
Does that not accurately describe the relevant church today: cute, flippant, silly and full of slogans and sacrilege? Sounds just like the seeker-sensitive, purpose driven and emerging church to me!
Throughout scripture, in both the Old and New Testament, God’s own are repeatedly referred to as a “peculiar people.” (Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 14:2, 26:18, Titus 2:14 & 1st Peter 2:9) I’ve written about this many times over the years.
That means we ought to be viewed by the world around us as distinctive. But how can Christians be both distinctive and relevant? And just how does one “connect” with a culture and not be “unequally yoked” to it?
Being distinctive is what being sanctified and set apart for God is all about. We’re not suppose to look and act like the rest of the world. We’re not called to blend in.
We’re called to “come out from among them” and stand out as a testimony to God’s power and presence in a corrupt kingdom! You see, if we don’t look or act any different from the world around us, then we’re probably not any different.
But the church isn’t teaching sanctification anymore because it’s an unfashionable, unpopular and outdated word that scares sinners and separates Christians from the culture of cool. No, today’s church has, instead, set its heart on being more relevant to the culture than righteous before God in a prideful and egregious effort to help Jesus get the numbers up.
“Go ye into all the world and be relevant?”
I don’t think so.
In my estimation, the word “relevant” was simply another devilishly dialectic term marketed to the church as a clever way to help Christians appeal to the flesh of the lost and buddy-up to the Beelzebub Club without appearing to compromise one’s Christian faith. But, that’s exactly what it does. And the more relevant one becomes to the enemies of Christ, the more irrelevant they become to God.
A preacher at a local megachurch my wife and I recently visited proudly told me a few days ago that he’s known as the pastor of the “coolest church in town” – using the word “cool” in various forms repeatedly in his email message, as if that would somehow impress me and make membership there more attractive. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that it would actually have the opposite effect. So, he was a little surprised and offended when I told him that “cool is not a fruit of the Spirit.”
If Christians have any relevance to this world, it is that we currently share it with unbelievers, who, like us, have a sinful nature. That’s all the relevance to this world Christians need in order to bear witness of the saving grace that came by Jesus Christ. It certainly isn’t necessary that we seek out more relevance than we already have.
Shall we now imitate more perfectly the hell-bound culture we were saved from as a means to win its favor, cooperation and participation? That’s not evangelism – that’s capitulation.
Being sanctified means we belong to Someone else now – Someone Who has forgiven our trespasses and sins and called us out of our old lives of depravity and rebellion to be “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.”
Suffice it to say, our time as Christians would be better spent swimming upstream against the currents of compromise and corruption than finding some fashionable flotilla with which to comfortably fit in and ride the rapids of relevancy over the falls to our spiritual demise.
By Paul Proctor
July 22, 2009
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” – 1 Kings 18:21