I received a great article on relevance and ministry. This was my comment to the article.

We struggle to become culturally relevant with the noble intent to reach more folks for Christ, yet fail to recognize that Christ and the Apostles never made such attempts. Inasmuch as Christ engages gentiles and Paul “was all things to all people” in efforts to engage the people they ministered to, the practices and standards of the Church were never altered. Paul made clear in his epistles that the practices he modeled and taught were applicable to “all the churches.”

As a result, our noble efforts have completely backfired. Instead of Christ’s Kingdom reshaping our world, the world has reshaped the Church. Look at divorce. When society thought it taboo, the church did too. Now society shifted, we see that divorce rates among professing Christians actually exceed atheists. We also see racism and slavery. The church was re;relative silent on these subjects, lagging behind the world’s condemnation of such ills.

In all these things, our western mindset drives us to plan and institutionalize our way to fix the symptoms (social ills), yet Christ NEVER said to engage the culture in this way. His Kingdom is a different kind of kingdom–one of the heart. His solution was simple–“make disciples teaching them to obey ALL His commands.” He knew the world would be changed if we followed His simple, yet clear instructions. The Church has become IRRELEVANT at impacting our society because of our basic disobedience. If we would do what He said, and not focus on the myriad of attempts to solve society’s problems our own way, we would have the impact we all so desire. Yet in our pride and arrogance (again, with noble intent), we think we know better than our King. I pray we repent and return to the simplicity of the Lord’s teachings so that we can become as relevant as the early church was–the few folks without money, buildings, seminary training, and our deep theology, completely turned their world upside down.


6 thoughts on “relevance

  1. Beautifully written. Sadly we too often “conform to the patterns of this world”. Bless you for standing out!

    In HIM~

  2. Hi Marc,

    You said, “His solution was simple–‘make disciples teaching them to obey ALL His commands.'”

    This point is also our freedom in Christ. We are free to follow Jesus no matter what anyone–government, men, friends, family, saints, church leaders, denominations–says to the contrary.

    This is a liberty, and not a new yoke. We are inviting people to obey Him in the power of the Spirit of God within them, not demanding they obey Him due to the power of our influence. We are free to follow Him and obey Him and this is our great privilege and joy! The truth sets us free from needing to please men (even from needing to please God). The whole neediness thing is resolved in our acceptance by Christ, mirrored in our acceptance of one another.

  3. Hi Marc,

    I did as you suggested. I suppose I wondered if your post was coming from a legalistic, controlling place, or from a place of grace, of our freedom to obey Him no matter what men tell us we cannot do. That’s why I posted what I did.

    I’m still not sure where you are approaching this from. But I’m glad to continue the discussion if you like.

    He did not put you or me in charge of people’s obedience. He did not put you in charge of your wife’s submission. He put you in charge of your submission to her, your loving her as Christ loved the church.

    Yes, if we are His, we will do seek to obey Him. But it doesn’t work the other way around (ie- we are not His because we are obeying). Our obedience simply demonstrates where our hearts are…

    “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me”

  4. Agreed. We are, however, accountable for our own obedience. The point made in the article is that the great commission does not say to make converts, having them raise their hand and say a magic prayer. It says to make disciples, “teaching them” to obey. We are not responsible for their obedience, but are responsible for teaching them. There is an extreme overemphasis on grace, mercy and love, to the abandonment of obedience, commitment, and the simple teachings of Christ. People wholesale abandon the teachings of Christ for Pauline doctrine. Read Peter, James, and John, and you’ll see a different emphasis. The problem is that we made Christianity theological to the neglect of practice. Paul showed what it meant to be a Christian by his way of life. The letters substantiated his lifestyle. We, hundreds of years later, pick apart his letters and create doctrine, independent of his life. Some of the reformers were murderers, yet we follow their doctrine. Therefore, total commitment and obedience was the norm in the early church, and has been lost since the time of Constantine. The resulting watered down Christianity will send grace-based pew-dwellers to hell in hoards–people falsely think that “belief” is enough, when the truth is authentic faith will certainly result in repentance, obedience, and undivided commitment. Folks must count the cost. These are firm words, but I fear the pendulum has swung too far one way, so my response obviously has some momentum.



  5. Ah Marc!

    Yes, we are in complete agreement. “when the truth is authentic, faith will certainly result in repentance, obedience, and undivided commitment…”

    Well, maybe “undivided” is too strong–The world and the devil do conspire with our old nature and we do fall (not tempted by God, but by our own lusts), even sometimes to 7×70. But we also get back up, repent, and fight on to follow Him, drawn ever closer to Him, to seek His glory who set us free and rescued us.

    That, too, is why we are not to forsake our gathering together–so that we may provoke and exhort one another to love and good works. I see your post now as in this light.

    There is such a fine semantic line between false grace and grace on one side and between legalism and encouragement/admonishment of those lax in the faith. But we know it when we experience it. Our freedom in Him chains us with love, not legalism, to obedience with joy and we gladly walk in the light, allowing Him to expose all sin in our lives.

    Thank you for extending yourself and sharing your heart Marc. May God bless your labors!

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