The word first struck me a few months ago. It was during a Bible study discussion; I still have the booklet that we read out of. Writing this post, I flipped back through the pages to find the exact question we were discussing at the time, and I think it was this:
What allurements of the world are directed to young Christians?
Someone in the group answered: the pressure to be relevant.
There’s a temptation to want to identify with what everyone else is reading, watching, doing, and where they are hanging out. There’s a temptation to want to be able to engage with them in conversation about the things that they like and that will make them like us.
Sometimes I think I’m not tempted in this particular way. But when someone recently asked me whether or not I had read Harry Potter, I didn’t like the sinking feeling as I answered, “no.” If nothing else, it was a jarring full-stop to the conversation when we might otherwise have been able to rave about something together. I had to wonder, did this young lady think I was “holier-than-thou” for not reading books with magic? Or did she think me ignorant and inexperienced?
I like how that one young lady answered the discussion question. The pressure to be relevant can indeed be an allurement that would entice me away from the Lord. My guess is that to one extent or another, this is true in your life, too.
Another type of relevant
As I get to know one of my Cambodian co-workers and we communicate in her broken English, she frequently uses the phrase “related to me.” She told me she used to study French but stopped because it wasn’t “related to her,” meaning it had no bearing on her life. She told me she doesn’t pray to the large town idol that she will pass her exam because that’s “not related to her” – what she rather prays to him for is confidence.
There’s that word again. Related. Relevant.
As I’ve shared parts of the gospel with this co-worker and friend, I have to wonder if she feels the same way about it as she feels about French and passing exams – that it’s not related to her. Does she think that our God is only “related to” foreigners and that the “Ta Dumbong” statue is related to her because of her nationality, upbringing and personal interests?
True or false?
Is God irrelevant to my Cambodian co-worker? Assuming you have even a basic grasp of the gospel, you would answer with a resounding “NO!”
We know that all people have sinned, regardless of their pass-times and interests:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
We know that God loves all people, regardless of family upbringing and personal history:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
We know that Jesus commissioned us to bring the news to all people, regardless of culture or nationality:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
And we know that in the end, all people – ALL. PEOPLE. – will have to stand before God and give an account for themselves.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
We may be familiar with these verses and more, but judging by the types of conversations we engage in, evidence may show that we believe the gospel ranks among the least relevant topics of conversation. We may be under the impression that pop culture defines what is relevant. Or we may struggle to introduce the gospel into the conversation because it seems like it has nothing to do with the person we’re facing.
Whoever’s face comes to mind as you’re reading, be reminded of this: the gospel has everything to do with them. Sharing it is the most relevant thing you could do.