The Problem Of Being Too Relevant

The Problem Of Being Too Relevant

Pastor Vincent - 10 April 2021

Weekend Devotion: The Problem With Being Too Relevant

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Now, over my years in  church, I never fail to hear Christians being captivated by certain teachings because they sounded so practical and relevant. In the church arena, one thing is for sure, that is preachers and teachers who are relevant never fail to draw big crowds to their church.

 

I always hear Christians telling me: “Oh I love this pastor, because his teaching is so relevant to my needs”. I mean as it is, we men are “needs conscious”, and we gravitate towards people or teachings that understand or cater to our needs.

 

 BUT in all honesty, that would be running down a slippery slope in terms of teaching the word of God. Now, why do I say that? Because first, the truth is NOT meant to be relevant to start with. The truth is meant to inform. It is meant to tear down falsehood and give people a real sense of the reality. But if we just seek to be relevant, we can make up stories, testimonies, or even worse, tweak the truth to substantiate a popular belief or point of view.

 

Sometimes, when I hear preachers open the bible and start talking about how God wants to help us realized our desired dreams, or they artfully claim biblical principles to help with restoring one’s health or thriving one’s businesses, I can’t help but feel that they’ve distorted the true intent of the Bible. I mean no doubt, these are very creative message creatively developed by creative people, but it could very well be messages that appeal to itching ears.

 

And what intrigued me is that these messages draw great crowds of people without the pressing call for people to repent of their sins. It doesn’t provoke the hearts of men to change, nor turn from their current ways. Rather, these messages simply legitimize people to conveniently misuse the bible for personal benefits, to satisfy one’s desires.

Eventually, both the teachers and hearers of such messages will fall prey to the evil one.

 

Now, if there is one thing that needs to be dealt with in the church, i.e. to stop all these “commercializing” of the church message. Preachers preaching such relevant messages always take pride in the way they manage to draw big crowds into the church through their creativity. But little did they realize that they are paving the way for the devil to corrupt the hearts of the hearers. I mean some may say: “Well these preachers use bible verses. They articulate bible stories and make it sound so interesting. My teenage child is captivated by those messages also”.

 

Now, have you ever wondered why are we having a generation that is increasingly superficial?

 

Why are we reading lesser and prefer browsing the internet?

 

Why are we only captivated by tagline and punchline?

 

Why is quick success so much sought after now?

 

Why do we increasingly see people losing their life saving on shares and cryptocurrency?

 

Now, all because the world has redefined truths. In exchange, it has made everything look so easy and relevant. Now go to a bookstore today, you can easily pick up a self-help book, but people nowadays are far from helping themselves. Go anywhere and read books that tell you how to make good investments in stocks and shares, it’s everywhere. But in reality, more people are losing money in these investments. Now, these books are so relevant and logical, but they are not bringing you to the truth of things. Yes, they are relevant knowledge, yet not true knowledge. They are knowledge that appeals to your direct senses. They tickle your greed and pride, but they are far from the truths of the Bible, my friends.

 

So if relevance is what you set your intent on, instead of knowing the truth of all matter, sadly you are going to be deceived all your life. And if you are only captivated by a relevant preacher, not a preacher of truth, honestly you are heading the way which is away from God.

 

So does it mean we need no relevance? I mean after all we are logical people, we need to analyze and make good sense out of things. And moreover, we’re people with needs. Yes, God recognizes that part of our human make up perfectly, but let’s understand how God’s truth will speak to us personally and relevantly, yet not in the way we think, but in the way God has designed His word to minister.

 

<Heb 4:12>: For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 

Let me first point out by saying that the Word is living and active. Active in what? You may ask. Active in both judgement and salvation. And this is the reality of all realities. This is God’s main message to us today. As it is, the Word of God is a written revelation, to inform us first of the ultimate reality that we never know because of our fallen nature.

 

And next to being revelatory, the Word is also proclamatory. It is the speech of God that is proclaimed through the lips of the gospel preachers, day to day, week to week, to nourish the people of God. It is never dull, it is never stagnant.

 

So as a preacher of the living Word, I know I am first responsible to speak forth what God has first revealed, not what I want it to say or feel it should say.

 

And next, it is to proclaim the spoken word of God to the hearers of His word, whether they like it or not. It was never meant to make the hearers feel relevant. And if I have done this faithfully, God will move his people to repentance and sanctification, and even to create discomfort in the hearts of unbelievers. As <Heb 4> says, God’s Word is meant to penetrates and probes into the inseparable aspects of the human soul and spirit, delivering divine judgment upon his stubborn heart, so that he could be brought to saving faith. By that, we know that God’s word is in proximity to the human heart. It knows what the heart really needs, instead of satisfying it with all the temporal pleasure and security.

 

So preaching the Word is not to keep the people happy. It is not to call unbelievers pre-believers, and make their hearts feel soothe even when they are not turning to the Lord. And I have to say this is where the contemporary church has got it all wrong.

 

Now, let me end with this. We can add nothing to the Word of God to make the Word relevant. Because the Word that creates us is already relevant. We may only speak the Word in the ears of the people of the world. Just inform people of the knowledge of truth, about who God is, who we sinners are, what salvation is and the living principle that God has laid down for all his creation. Once our mind has been renewed by the knowledge of God’s truth, what comes next or what to do next is spoken into the hearts of men through the Spirit of God. It is not for us to make the word extra relevant or lure people with promises that God hasn’t made. Let’s not walk down that slippery slope, and let us beware of people who teaches so.   

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Pastor Vincent Choo
choochisan@gmail.com

Vincent is the Senior Pastor of The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) and is an ardent missionary to the Chinese World. He currently lives in Singapore with his wife, Qiufen, and has three kids, Mary, David, and Caleb.

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