Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Challenge of Relevance

By Joe Chesser

    One of the most fascinating truths about the Bible is its relevance.  Though written thousands of years ago in varying cultures and times, though written by thirty-five to forty different men with varying educational backgrounds, though written in several different literary styles, the Bible is as relevant to our culture and lives as today’s newspaper. And that is true whether we are native to Jackson, Jamaica or Japan.  The Bible speaks to us, works on us, transforms us today.  Paul told the Thessalonians that they had received the word of God “which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).  And it’s been at work in every generation since.
    But the relevance of the Bible should be no surprise since the “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). The incarnation (God becoming flesh) took place in part so that we could know that God knows what it is like to live where we live.  Jesus met us on our turf.  He dealt with cheating government officials, blind and lame beggars, proud politicians, loose-living streetwalkers, radical extremists, grieving parents, course fishermen, victims of demonism, honest truth-seekers – and he was able to purposefully relate to them on their level, all the while without stooping to their level.  Perhaps we need to rethink how we present the gospel.  Read carefully George MacLeod’s challenging words:

I simply argue that the cross be raised again
At the center of the market place
As well as on the steeple of the church.
I am recovering the claim that
Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles:
But on a cross between two thieves;
On a town garbage heap;
At a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan
That they had to write His title
In Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek ...
And at the kind of place where cynics talk smut,
And thieves curse and soldiers gamble.
Because that is where He died,
And that is what He died about.
And that is where Christ’s men ought to be,
And what church people ought to be about.

    One of the glaring needs of the world today is for Christians to not only declare the message of the gospel, but also to demonstrate daily the relevance of how that message is lived out in every situation of life. The word of God still must become flesh in us to be relevant.

 - Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

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