Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Timeless relevance

Being relevant seems to be an obsession of much of the church today. Normally this takes the form of trying to look and communicate as much like the culture as it is possible to do without sinning. I'm sure you've all seen some of the many examples of this. There's the events, the magazines, the websites, the T-shirts, the marketing and lots of other attempts at being a lot cooler than we probably are.

I know in most cases these attempts at relevance via being like the culture are well intentioned. The problem is they tend to fall flat. One of the major reasons is that the culture moves so quickly that it is not easily possible to keep up with it all. What is cool comes and goes quickly, often lasting only as long as it takes for the not cool people to catch up. When we get in wrong, we easily look very stupid. The other risk is that the message gets lost under all our attempts at cool. We risk making it look like since we are so much like them we must have nothing of substance to offer that they don't already have. I think it is time that as Christians we consider what it really means to be relevant

Love is always relevant
There has never been and will never be a time where people don't need to be loved. There is no social or age group that can go without it. Love is always relevant to people regardless of what trends are happening at the time. People always want to know that they are cared about and listened to. People always crave being truly accepted by someone. People always could benefit from having someone to help them out when they hit a rough patch in life. All the advances society has made throughout the years haven't diminished these needs, if anything some of them have made people more disconnected and therefore in more need of being loved. Us going out of the way to show love to someone will leave a much longer and more impacting impression than us trying hard to be cool ever could. Showing people love can also open a way for the second thing we have to offer that is always relevant, the Gospel.

The Gospel is always relevant
While experts have created lots of big new words to describe it, human nature hasn't really ever changed. We battle many of the same problems we have been up against since the fall. Sin is as much a problem for people separated from God as it ever was despite millenniums of effort and plotting to improve humanity. Because us humans haven't changed, the gospel is still as relevant as it has ever been. The good news that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins making us right with God is still good news for everyone, everywhere. We don't need to dress the gospel up because it is the truth of the message that contains the power to change people, not our fancy forms of presentation.

So be relevant, but may it be our love and the gospel that define our relevance, not passing fads.

1 comment:

  1. Especially here in California church is so much about marketing and programs and the big campus... and of course hipness and being cool. I am the most unhip person you'll ever want to meet. There is really nothing about me that would urge an image concious teen to hang out with me... but kids love to be here and doing the music thing... not because of being hip or a program at all... it's because they know that they know that I love them, I believe in them, I'm investing in their lives, and I know their lives can make a difference. My friends keep trying to come up with hip programs... I keep telling them it's not about that... it's about really loving the people God puts in their lives in a Christlike way. Good post.