Christianity: The Need for Relevance

I believe the world that we live in needs to know how Christianity is indefinitely more than just another religion. Especially for those of us who profess Christ as Lord and Saviour, the onus is on us to accurately represent Christ in a way that is relevant and anew in this 21st century.

It is safe to say that majority of the unchurched view God as outdated, unexciting and boring. How do they formed such impressions?

The answer: The Church.

This surely is ironic and sad since the Church should actually be the truth bearers and for a fact, Jesus is certainly not outdated, unexciting and boring.

We are in the world, but not of the world

I think the problem starts when we Christians become too religious and focus on the do’s and don’ts. The deeds or the outward behaviour becomes the standard rather than the being.

As such, for many Christians, this world is something to stay away from. Everything in society—with all its sciences, philosophies and pop culture—is seen as the work of the devil; something profane and must be totally rejected. Since this world is not our home, we should have no ownership of material assets. As much as possible, we should not have any unnecessary contact with anything “secular.”

However, Jesus says to us, “We are in the world, but not of the world.”

So how can we live in the world, and not be of the world? How are we to be the head in the world, and not be the tail in the world? How are we to function in the world, have a relationship with it, and all the while not be influenced by it?

Understanding the “world”

Is the Bible confused concerning the world, blowing hot and cold at the same time? Hence, knowing the whole counsel of God ’s Word is very important. When the Scripture uses the word “world,” it could mean one of three things:

  1. The world is God’s created order (or masterpiece) for His own enjoymentThe Bible says that though the world is fallen, God still loves it. In fact, He loved it so much that He sent His Son to reconcile all things in the world back to Him (Col. 1:20). So this world, which God loves and Jesus saves, is not totally evil. But nevertheless, it suffers the effects of sin and the way sinners have treated it. Acts 3:21 says that the plan of God now or in this age is to restore all things to its original purpose and intention.
  2. The world also implies physical lands or nations- Jesus says that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). To Christ, used in this context, the world refers to countries and physical territories on planet Earth.
  3. The world is the realm of wickedness and prideful rebellion against God- In this wicked realm, Satan is its prince and god (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). This sinful realm constantly opposes God and persecutes the godly. It is this “world” of pride and rebellion that a believer must not conform his mind to (Rom. 12:2).

Evidently, there is an urgent need for us to change how we think and communicate the reality of Christ to the world. The gospel needs to be re-presented (with its biblical principles intacted), not just represented.

Being relevant and engaging the world

Personally, I believe that God wants the world to envy us (just as how it was depicted in the Old Testatment) and say to us: “We must have your way of life!” Yet, how many among the unchurched are actually jealous of Christians today?

Why aren’t the unbelievers rushing to church every weekend, or knocking on our doors saying, “Help me, I have to get into the kingdom of God! I want to be like you—happy, successful and creative!” Or have we presented Christianity in a way that is flaky, boring and ugly? Have we presented the kingdom of God to be so backward and irrelevant that the world doesn’t want any part of us?

Let us decide to be relevant to our society. We shouldn’t be afraid to engage a world that God has created and always loved. We should not be fearful to engage culture by being as creative, as colorful, and as progressive as we could possibly be for the glory of God.

We mustn’t shun the sciences and arts out there in the marketplace. Rather, we should work hard and excel in the arena of life God has planted us in. As we do that, we will become the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Ultimately, we will be able to bring many into the kingdom of God !