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It is safe to say that majority of the unchurched view God as outdated, unexciting and boring.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surely is ironic and sad since the Church should actually be the truth bearers and for a fact, Jesus is certainly not outdated, unexciting and boring.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 !

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10 thoughts on “Christianity: The Need for Relevance

  1. See Kong Hee’s wife Sun Ho engaging culture by playing a gyrating Geisha in Music Video ‘China Wine’

    http://www.asianbite.com/default.asp?display=1009

    Or join in the debate whether this is acceptable for a Pastor’s wife?

    http://talkback.stomp.com.sg/forums/archive/index.php/t-22746.html

    What do you think about it, Andrew?

    Mat5.13″You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

  2. Since u are at this topic. I would love to recommend an unstoppable force by Erwin Raphael McManus. You would love the book if this is your conviction. =)

  3. joe:

    Hmmm… this is strictly my opninon ya…

    First, the song sucks… dun understand what it means also… but I guess the target audience is not for the Singapore market lar… Ha ha…

    And about her dressing, I think she did not go overboard. But this is subjective. Maybe to us Asian is over the limit, but in the US this is conservative. Just like how in Brazil wearing a bikini is seen as normal but maybe in Asia this could be seen as scantily.

    Therefore I think it is really about contextualising the principle of purity and holiness, not so much of do’s and don’ts. As for the song should be targeted to the US market, I think she dressed pretty modest and did not dance in any sexual provocative manner. So pass lar…

    1 Corinthians 9:19-23…

    19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

    I think for us as the Church in this context, we should focus on the positive instead of the negative. Cos the fact remains that Sun is doing what she can to reach out to the masses without compromising the faith as best as she knows how.

    So for the sake of the gospel we should be supportive since she is using her talent for God’s redemptive purpose and not doing something that is outright unbiblical or sinful.

    But just as we are all work in progress, we should try not to tear down but build up the Church in unity so that the devil cannot divide and further weaken the condition of His Church to make an impact in this world.

    These are my thoughts.

    Zachary:

    Thanks for the recommendation! Will check the book out!

  4. Andrew,
    Thanks for sharing your frank opinion. I understand that you have been strongly advocating the gospel in the marketplace . Ten years ago, i would agree with you, but now i have to totally disagree with you.

    As a matter of fact, it sounds easier for us to use our marketplace professions to witness the gospel. Unfortunately, it is not so simple or straightforward. Remember the worldly way is a Win-Win method, keep our jobs & share gospel at the same time but Jesus’ way is to Lose/abandon All for Christ.

    When JESUS said “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”, did Peter asked whether can he remained as fishermen, have a regular income & still catch men & fish at the same time?

    No, Simon Peter & Andrew his brother straightway left their nets, and followed Him. And James and John abandoned not only the boat-representing their livelihood-but also their father and the family business (Matt4:18-22). Jesus called fishermen to be gatherers of people. HE didnt tell them to remain as fishermen & share the good news from their boats.

    “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:25

  5. joe:

    I see your point…

    From what you are saying, are you implying that all Christians should resign from their vocations/professions from the marketplace like Peter and Andrew who were fishermen and be full-time paid ministers?

    If so i beg to differ as that would really mean that we would lose our “saltiness” in this world. I believe that God does want us to WIN at work just as we should WIN for the gospel with reference to Colossians 3:22-23…

    22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

    In fact, it seems that God seems to expect us not only to use our profession, but to do well in it as though we are serving Him as our Boss in order the gospel be seen and heard through our lives at work.

    I would think that God called some of us to be full-time paid ministers or clergies and some to be marketplace ministers and also some to be missionaries. All these roles work together in tandem and with an integrated fashion to advance His kingdom.

    Ephesians 4:7-13

    7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says:
    “When he ascended on high,
    he led captives in his train
    and gave gifts to men.”9(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

  6. If the LORd calls them out & provide them a way out. If you are a slave or bonded to a company for no of years under contract, then serve your earthly masters with sincerity of heart. When its time to leave, then leave & serve the Lord wholeheartedly. Or you can remain to serve your earthly master as a slave.

    btw, there is no need to use worldly entertainment to attract people to Christ. In Jesus’ days, they certainly didnt need to hire circus performers or clowns to attract more crowd. It’s just LORD Jesus and HIs Word. My HERO!

    Mat6.24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

  7. Hey Joe

    I see a very interesting discussion unfolding. Both points are equally valid, and I think that there is an amount of validity in both points.

    It’s true we don’t need entertainers to attract people to Christ, but i believe we need Christian entertainers to point all those in the entertainment industry to God. Pastor PN talked about sending influence to all of the 7 spokes of the world. Entertainment is one of them. =)

  8. Hey Zachary,
    There’s only one Master & one LOrd, JESUS of Nazareth, and HE is my HERO. No other. Anyone beg to differ?

    My prev pastor in the mega church always say, “GOd can never lie to you, but man can lie to you. “. He’s right, he’s only a man. Why trust in man’s words, rather in the WORD of GOd?

    Over the millenia, men have been trying to use his own methods/ideas hoping to achieve GOd’s Purpose faster, instead of waiting upon the Lord. What’s the result, then? Maggi mee in 3 minutes?

    1Chron13.9 When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.

    Mark7.16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
    ———–

    ###1857. Prophecy given to Raymond Aguilera 10 November 2006 at 10:45 AM

    Pastors, teachers, and leaders with authority in the Body of Christ: The scriptures below are pointed and are in your face. Drop your worldly ways or face the penalties of death. You can fool others but you cannot fool Me. I am not playing a game with you. Take off your mask of fantasy Christianity and teach with the Spirit and reality of God. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, but there is death for those who play worldly games with My Word. Stop trying to act like you are some kind of movie star and get real or I will give you the back of My Hand. And if you think I am joking, keep doing what you are doing. Take your sports, worldly music and movie acting out of My Church.

    During the end times that are coming up you will need the Power of the Holy Spirit to survive those troubled times. Remember the back of My Hand is there. But if you listen to this Word with the Spirit of God, which is REAL, I will save you pastors, teachers and leaders of this fallen Church. I am sick and tired of listening to your false words with big smiles.

    Did you hear Me? Or are you waiting for the back of My Hand? I am in your FACE and I am going to stay there until you change or die. Get on your knees and pray to Me and you better be sincere, because I can read your heart. I Love you all, but I cannot take anymore of your sinful nature. Now proceed and convince Me you have changed in the Spirit of God. Or Die with the devil, your close friend. So be it! So be it! So be it!

    From KJB:

    Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

    Now as for My Beloveds who follow Jesus Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit: If you see your pastor or church leader acting like I have just stated and they do not seem to have changed their ways, give them this Prophecy. Then stand back and say nothing to them. Let your Lord take it from there. There are many pastors and church leaders who are so lost they would not know Jesus Christ if He walked into their church. They are deaf, blind and without the Spirit of God. So be it! So be it! So be it!

  9. 2 Pet 2:1 [NIV] But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.
    2 Pet 2:2 [NIV] Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
    2 Pet 2:3 [NIV] In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

    Greed is what drives these commercial churches.
    Greed for money,
    Greed for fame,
    Greed for popularity,
    Greed for prosperity,
    Greed for selfish desires.

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