Ok, I wrote a really long blog on this issue, but I lost it when trying to publish! So I will try to summarize what I wrote. Basically, the notion of "relevant messages" pisses me off because of what it generally entails. Yes, this is a rant. Many churches boast of having "relevant messages", but what do they mean by that?
rel·e·vant (rl-vnt) adj.
Having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand.
What, then, is the "matter at hand"? Well, it is ME. We want to hear about us. We are relevant to us -our lives, our success, our day-to-day. A message on marriage, nurturing children, how to be more successful, how to be more blessed, how to be more of this or that, is "relevant". We want to know how this teaching can help us right now. What else? Cultural issues are relevant. Abortion, alcoholism, homosexuality, divorce, marriage, teen pregnancy, premarital sex -these are all "relevant" issues, and this is what we get. The irony is... does it really help? Why, with all of the endless preaching on marriage, are divorce rates higher among Christians than ever? I mean, with all of this relevant moralistic preaching, you would think it would be showing some results, right? And certainly, it does help some because these things are good in and of themselves. But this is not what Bible preaching is about. This is not preaching "Christ and Him crucified" as the apostle said.
The other thing that irks me about this is what it says about preaching that is primarily about Jesus, and not us. If preaching these "relevant" messages is more relevant, then that means preaching teaching about Christ (commonly called "doctrine") is less relevant or even irrelevant? I almost can't think of anything more blasphemous. The most relevant message is the one that streams through the pages of Scripture -that we are fallen sinners, rebels against God, and that God in His grace has sent His Son to be Savior and Lord and redeem with His blood men from every tongue and tribe and people and nation. The relevant message is that there is a Savior for me, a terrible sinner, and that all who take refuge in Him, including myself, are saved by virtue of His blood and righteousness. I'm sorry, but that message never gets old and never loses relevance. All other messages flow from this. Marriage, for the Christian, is meaningless apart from the Person of Christ who lived and died outside of us. And what are we trying to do by feeding ourselves with this empty moralism? Are we trying to live by the Law? "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law," as the apostle Paul reminds us.
The life we seek, the true relevance, is Christ on the cross and nothing else. If this is not relevant enough for you, then I pray that the Lord would hand you over to the Law so that you would see your true state.