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Monday, July 14, 2014

Relevant, Revealed, or Both?

By Jim Faughn 

   Every once in a while I drive by a sign identifying a particular place as The Relevant Church.  When I saw that, my first thought was fairly negative.  My thoughts went something like this:
             "That's what is wrong in the religious climate of our day.  Everybody is trying to be relevant.  In the process, they're trying to be everything to everybody.  They've lost all respect for the Bible, its authority, and for the church revealed in it.  We need to quit trying to please everybody.  We need to focus on pleasing our Lord and being a part of His church which is revealed in His Word." 
Well, my thoughts may not have been that well defined, but I think you get the point.  I'm more than a little disturbed by some of the things taking place under the umbrella of Christianity. 
    After reflecting on this, however, I've begun to wonder if this has to be one of those either-or propositions.  Do we have to select either a church that is relevant for people today or a church that is revealed in the pages of the New Testament?  Could it be the case that the relevant church is, in fact, the revealed church?  Could the revealed church also actually be the relevant church? 
    After some reflection, I've come to the (obvious) conclusion that the answer to those last two questions is a resounding, "Yes." 
    Please consider some of the reasons why I firmly believe that the revealed church is the relevant church:
* The church revealed in the New Testament was built by, and is owned by, Jesus (cf. Matt. 16:18). Since "Jesus Christ (is) the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8)," that would make His church perpetually relevant.
* Jesus said that "...the truth will set you free" (John 8:32, ESV).  In 1 Timothy 3:15, the church is depicted as "...a pillar and buttress of truth."  It seems to me that this would make the revealed church just as relevant today as it was when those inspired words were written.  It is of interest to notice that, in this verse, the church is described by this language;  "...the church of the living God..."  Unless we are going to subscribe to the "God is dead" theory, we must acknowledge that the church is still relevant.
* Since it is the case that the blood of Jesus purchased the church (cf. Acts 20:28), I would not presume to make the case that His sacrifice is not still relevant today.
* Are people still being saved today?  If they are (and they are), they are added to the same church to which the people were added on the day of Pentecost (cf.  Acts 2:47).  That sure sounds relevant to me.
* We are informed that Jesus is the head of the church revealed in the New Testament (cf. Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:18).  He will continue to fulfill that responsibility until "...the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power" (1 Cor. 15:24).  Does that not say something to us about the church's relevance for as long as the world stands? 
    I am one who believes that the truth is usually between extremes.  If an organization has abandoned or ignored God's revelation in an attempt to broaden its appeal, it really has no right to properly claim to be a church.  At the same time, the church cannot be relegated to words on the pages of a book we may not have picked up in years (if ever).    It would behoove those of us who truly care about our own souls and the souls of those around us to point people to the church revealed in scripture and show them how it is, indeed, relevant in their lives today.  

- Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org



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