By Bill Brandstatter
The cry among many believers today is: "Make it relevant." They want the worship services relevant to the way society is today. They want the preaching to relate to societal problems. Is the preaching relevant? Do we have to change our worship in order to meet the needs of today's culture?
Let us answer these questions with a few observations. What could be more relevant to an immoral, ungodly, humanistic society than what we have in Jesus Christ and Him crucified? The message of the cross must have related to the society of Paul's day. In some ways it was even worse than our society. Paul stated regarding his preaching: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Cor. 9:16) Was Paul's preaching relevant? On another occasion Paul stated: "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." (Gal. 1 :10) Paul condemned just preaching what men wanted to hear. He also indicated he was in trouble if he didn't preach the gospel.
When Paul preached the gospel what did he preach? Paul was first of all consistent in what he preached. A preacher who changes with the wind is not what God wants. Notice what Paul said about himself: "For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church." (1 Cor. 4:17) Notice Paul's consistency in teaching everywhere in every church. This is also indicated in 1 Cor. 7: 17: "But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches." Again notice "in all churches." Paul's message was the same everywhere he went.
We know some of what Paul taught. In Acts 19, he taught the brethren their baptism was wrong. They then obeyed the gospel. Was his preaching relevant? Was it fulfilling the needs of that day? To the church at Corinth Paul preached and "many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed, and were baptized." (Acts 18:8) Did Paul preach what was relevant?
Friends, what could be more needed or more relevant today than the good news or gospel of Jesus Christ? To cure loneliness, we need Christ. To help broken homes, we need Christ. To help failing marriages, we need Christ. To stop murder, suicide, etc., we need Christ, not a social gospel, not a felt-needs message. We need Christ. If individuals go to worship just to be entertained, they are going for the wrong reason. We should go to be edified and built up in the Christian faith. This will help us to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Eph. 6:11) If we are after entertainment, there are a lot of places to go. If we want to be built up spiritually, we need to worship God. The worship needs to be such as pleases Him. If worship is done “decently and in order” and not spontaneous and unexpected, God will be pleased (1 Cor. 14:33). If Christ is preached, and the gospel taught the message will be relevant. If this occurs, Christians should be strengthened and built up as a result.