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Irrelevant

Weekly Devotionals

Irrelevant

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

Missiology is the “study of missions.”  In missiology, there’s a word called contextualization.  According to modern day church specialist, Ed Stetzer, “[c]ontextualization involves an attempt to present the Gospel in a culturally relevant way.”  In other places he says, “[c]ontextualization is adapting communication of the gospel to the forms and expression of another culture so that mundane obstacles to the gospel may be overcome.”  And so contextualization is a very important aspect of missions and the expansion of the Kingdom of God both geographically and temporally over time.  Every culture throughout the world receives the gospel in a way that is consistent with its values and morays.  And furthermore, because every culture shifts and changes, every generation has to undergo contextualization of the gospel, otherwise its impact and essence gets lost on the emerging young people.

And so, many people in the church push for being “relevant.”  The problem that arises with this is that many in the church interpret this in such a way where they begin to look just like the world.  Not that it’s overtly wrong per se, but sometimes churches care too much about external image and value entities like money and power in the exact same way as the world.  Thus, often it’s hard to tell the difference between the church and the world.

One of my heroes, Eugene Peterson said, “I think relevance is a crock. I don’t think people care a whole lot about what kind of music you have or how you shape the service. They want a place where God is taken seriously, where they’re taken seriously, where there is no manipulation of their emotions or their consumer needs.  Why did we get captured by this advertising, publicity mindset? I think it’s destroying our church.” 

When we look at the life of Jesus, the relevance of his ministry did not hinge on looking like the religious Israelites who clung to legalism, nor the powerful Romans who occupied Israel with an iron scepter.  Jesus served and laid down his life for the people of the world.  From a certain standpoint of worldliness, His death and resurrection was completely irrelevant.  He only had 120 followers after he ascended to heaven.  So, he kind of was a nobody.  But in reality, nothing and no one is more relevant in all of history and the world.

And now, we, his body the church, are called to lay down our lives and serve the people of this world and to, in a sense, be irrelevant.  We don’t use the same tactics of the world.  We follow Jesus.  We need to look for ways to serve the people of our world, to sacrifice ourselves to minister to them and to show them the love of God.  Only then will we make any difference that has any lasting impact.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Amen.