Written by Pastor Chad Sebyt
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3
The interchangeable terms of relevancy and relevance are defined as a “relation to the matter at hand.” In other words, for something to have relevancy it must relate to a certain matter being discussed or dealt with. If you were to ask me about my shoe size it would be irrelevant for me to discuss with you my prescription glasses. These two terms may also be defined as “having practical and especially social applicability.” In a world full of cell phones and smart phones, the telegraph has become pretty irrelevant. It is no longer practically or socially applicable to today’s communication.
Since the fall into sin there have been many individuals who have been obsessed with the quest for relevancy. They desire that they themselves have a “practical and especially social applicability.” They want themselves to be pertinent to whatever matter is at hand. Of course, our first parents, Adam and Eve, fell into this trap when they believed Satan’s lie that they would “become like God” if they ate of the forbidden fruit.
In the early 1800s a fourteen year old boy living in the state of New York defected from his parents’ Christian church. He claimed to have been visited by God who told him that all Christian denominations were wrong. Seven years later at the age of 21 this same individual claimed to have received a direct revelation from an angel named Moroni. The boy’s name was Joseph Smith and so began the Mormon church. Yes, this anti-Christian church was begun as a result of a teenager’s quest for relevancy.
In the late 1800s an eighteen year old boy, who had previously fallen away from his Christian parents’ teachings, became interested in Jesus’ second coming. He began to promote the view that Jesus’ second coming would be spiritual rather than physical. Over a period of several years he and some friends would write much on his own ideas. They would even go on to publish a periodical known as Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. The teenager’s name was Charles Taze Russell, founder and first president of the Jehovah’s Witnesses – another anti-Christian organization born out of a teen boy’s thirst for relevancy.
In modern times Satan still sows much discord among God’s people with the temptation of relevancy. Sinful man still desires to “become like God,” and Satan is ready and willing to suggest that we ought to think more highly of ourselves. He enjoys prey of any and all ages, but he is especially concerned with the younger generation. And that makes sense, for if you can mold the thoughts and heart of a person when they are young, they’re more likely to continue into that mold throughout their adult lives as well.
The world too is interested in molding the youth for their own devious purposes, and they do so under the disguise of assisting the younger generation in their quest for relevancy. This fact can be observed with all of the “targeting” of today’s youth. Politicians and celebrities “rock out the vote” among the younger generation, assuming they can pocket their votes simply by appearing “cool.” Sexual deviants and predators target the young and impressionable, warping their young minds into thinking that ungodly sexual ideas and practices are acceptable and okay. Even gangs succeed in acquiring their new young members by making them feel a relevant part of the group. Sinners of every age, but especially the young, need to be aware of such tactics that play on Satan’s lie of the need for self-relevancy.
As dangerous as the sinner’s quest for relevancy in secular matters is, it is even more so when it is transferred to things of the church. Often, a Christian will lament, “How can I be more relevant in the church?” In reality that is a wrong-headed question suggested by the world and Satan himself. The truth of the matter is that a quest for relevancy in the church can and often is a very dangerous thing for both the individual and the church itself. In fact, more often than not, the one who asks such a question really means “How can I make the church more relevant to me?” And such individuals seek to do just that by attempting to affect such things as music, worship styles, Bible studies, Bible camps, and so forth not for the good of the church, but rather for their own personal tastes and agendas.
Consider again the passage which is the basis for our meditation: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) What happens when one seeks relevancy within the church? The apostle Paul points out that such an individual is no longer thinking “soberly” – literally “saving thoughts.” Such an individual has already begun to seek his own glory rather than God’s glory. In fact, as we have seen, the sinner who seeks his own relevancy will create false teachings and put stumbling blocks in the way of a person learning the truth about his Savior. An individual seeking relevancy in the church overlooks the fact that “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” He is looking to build himself up at the expense of the household of faith. Such an individual needs to be directed to his error and then to his Savior.
Consider Jesus. If anyone ever had a claim on self-relevancy, it was He. And yet, what did He do? He emptied Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. In doing so, Christ became relevant for the whole world, for it was His death that freed us all from sin’s curse. And through baptism, the Holy Spirit gives the Christian relevancy in this world. For everyone who has been baptized into Christ has put on Christ.
Consider Jesus’ words: “I am the vine. You are the branches.” “You are the light of the world.” “You are the salt of the earth.” Christ makes the Christian relevant because He has an important work for us to do, namely the spreading of His saving Gospel to lost sinners. If you are in Christ, He has made you relevant to this world because the light of truth you now have in Christ Jesus, the world so desperately needs to hear. Focusing on this truth will turn any self-seeking question of “How can I be relevant in the church?” into a proper, God-seeking question of “Lord, what will You have me do?”
“God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” The question to ask is “How can I use that measure of faith to make Jesus relevant in the lives of others?” After all, what could be more relevant in the life of sinners than Jesus Christ and Him crucified? Realizing that our relevancy rests in Christ and not in ourselves will cause us to echo the words of John the Baptist: “I must decrease, but He must increase.” Dear Jesus, decrease my thoughts about myself; increase Your kingdom. Amen.