Friday, September 24, 2010

Church and the foolishness of relevance...

Growing your particular church or congregation by engaging in relevant marketing doesn't grow the kingdom of God.  But that is the current fad.  Relevance reigns supreme in many local churches nowadays.  Proclaiming Christ and Him crucified for our sins does grow the kingdom. That is what God uses to kill us and to regenerate us. He resurrects us. Spiritually, He raises us from the dead.  Law and Gospel.

People, who are dead in their trespasses and sins, who show up at a church focused on being relevant and not focused on Christ and His atoning sacrifice, end up being burdened with more law as they hear how can they can/ should better hear from God, can/ should be better parents, can/ should create better relationships, etc. We are comforted by how good we are, and how we almost have it. In some cases, we hear that we ourselves can totally do it. God meets us part of the way, all we have to do is just a couple of more things. Then we can arrive. Right. (Sarcastic tone, by the way). This is scratching itching ears.

St. Paul writes to Timothy:

1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

2 Timothy 4:1-4  ESV

The biblical gospel goes something like this:
It starts off with some bad news. Really bad. We have screwed up. We have rebelled against God and His law. Romans 3 states that "None is righteous, no, not one; No one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no does good, not even one." Everything within a person is selfish, seeking its own glory.

The law requires that we love the Lord with all our hearts, love our neighbor as yourself. We all fail at both of these all the time. God's law states that we shall not murder (hate), lie, steal, covet, etc. We all fail at those, also. Bottom line: You are a sinner. So am I.

But it doesn't stop there. Thanks be to God. We are sinners in need of a savior. We have one in Jesus Christ. His blood covers our sin. His death and resurrection puts us in right standing before God. We all will stand in front of God. If we stand in front of Him in our own righteousness, we don't stand a chance. We can't be good enough.

Isaiah 64:6 is, perhaps, one of the most cited verses to show that we should not (and could not) rely on our own righteousness for our salvation. This leads to the concept of imputed righteousness of Christ to cover our unrighteousness. God offers the only solution – He sent His Son, Christ, a free gift from Him, and Christ pays the penalty of our sins.

We need preachers in our churches teaching this. Preaching the proper distinction of law and gospel. Preaching forgiveness of sins and repentance. Jesus and Him crucified. Instead, the vast majority of churches desire to be relevant, instead of being Jesus-centered. What is important is that they get more people in the door. Numbers are very important, if not ultimate.

Chris Rosebrough, of Pirate Christian Radio, put forth 95 New Theses. Seven of these theses hit the nail on the head when it comes the relevant machine that has infiltrated the church:

6. Relevance, self-help and pop-psychology have no power to work true contrition over sins and faith in Jesus Christ.

11. In the name of relevance, our Lord Jesus Christ is reduced to a life-coach whose “gospel” assists and motivates people to achieve the objectives of their self-centered delusions of grandeur.

25. Purveyors of relevance claim that self-help, life-applications and biblical principles are the means to reach the unchurched because they meet people’s felt needs.

26. Yet a person’s greatest need is one he does not by nature feel, namely the need for the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ.

28. The true need that mankind is seeking but does not know is justification by grace through faith for Christ’s sake.

29. Since justification is through faith and not through works, natural man neither seeks it nor desires it.

30. Therefore, the teaching of justification by grace through faith is neither seeker-sensitive nor relevant to a world that naturally seeks self-justification.

Relevance in the Church is lethal. And it is viral. It has reached many parts of the Body. It has nothing to offer a person except more law. No gospel. No good news. Only death. Our hope is found in Christ and His work alone. Not ours.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic post - I sent it to the pastors in my circuit in Oklahoma.