For 5-Minute Friday this week, the Gypsy Mama has asked us to consider the word "relevant". What follows is the honest, mostly unscripted response that I managed to produce in about 8 minutes of (mostly unedited) writing. This is the challenge of 5-Minute Friday, and everyone brave enought to try it is welcome to join in.
To be perfectly honest, I have become thoroughly weary with the word "relevant" in the Christian religious scene over the past decade or so. When people say things like, "We need to find ways to make the Gospel/Jesus/God/church relevant today," it just simply makes my skin crawl. If the Gospel has truly become irrelevant, why on earth do we still bother clinging to it, trying to publicize it to those around us? If church really has become irrelevant, why would we still encourage people to attend? If God--Father, Son and Holy Spirit--is no longer relevant, then we should all get a different hobby, obsession, or favorite talking point, shouldn't we?
Since we can pretty much all agree that this stark picture isn't what we MEAN by these phrases, perhaps we should stop saying them, since "relevant" doesn't actually mean "interesting," "trendy," or "fashionable". Clearly, English already has words for that--I just listed them. None of us as Christians truly believes that the Gospel has stopped being relevant; more, we seem to feel that there may be something wrong with our approach in presenting it. If that is the case, then let us call out the true nature of the problem; WE, as the messengers, have somehow become irrelevant. No one ever accused Christ of this deficiency during His ministry and life here on earth; He captured people's attention and held them breathless, hanging on His every word. How? He spoke with authority, WITHOUT speaking like a pedant and WITHOUT being judgmental. He spoke with love, WITHOUT that love demonstrating itself in utter permissiveness. He spoke the truth, WITHOUT hurting people with that truth. He DEMONSTRATED His absolutely unstoppable love for mankind by feeding the hungry, ministering to the sick and broken-hearted, being honestly Himself at all times. Relevancy is not achieved by false cheerfulness, changing musical worship styles, turning the Bible into a glossy-covered magazine version of itself, or any of the other methods churches often use to remain trendy and on the cutting edge. Genuine human compassion, the love of Christ demonstrated to those in need without ever saying a word, never becomes irrelevant.