“For the word of God is living and active….Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
– Hebrews 4:12-13
Chances are you’ve heard someone say, “When I was a kid I used to go to church all the time, but the church is no longer relevant in my life.” The belief that Christianity has lost its relevance has become increasingly common in recent years. A survey of unchurched millennials revealed that 70% believe that Christianity is “out of touch with reality.” Most who espouse this belief also question the relevance of Scripture: “The Bible is great and all, but it’s so old. It doesn’t contain the answers to our contemporary problems.”
Honestly, how could a 2,000-year-old book contain the answers to questions surrounding the complex, hot-button topics in modern society? How could the Bible possibly contribute to our discussions about gender roles, gay marriage, immigration reform, gun control, health care or climate change? Of what use is the Bible when establishing policies in response to contemporary issues such as abortion, racism and terrorism? When we subject the Bible to a relevancy test, doesn’t it come up short?
Not at all! Surprisingly, the Bible has always been, still is and always will be the most relevant book on the planet. In years past it has consistently offered relevant counsel to those dealing with yesterday’s difficulties and problems, and in years to come it will certainly offer relevant counsel to those dealing with tomorrow’s difficulties and problems. To say that the Bible is ahead of its time is an understatement. However, when considering the question of relevance, it’s important to keep these five truths in mind.
Truth #1: Our culture’s view of what’s relevant and God’s view of what’s relevant are not the same thing. In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Paul writes, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” Suffice it to say: Our culture’s highest priorities are rarely God’s highest priorities. Hence we are prone to label our own irrelevant issues as “relevant” and God’s relevant issues as “irrelevant.” So, when you find yourself questioning Scripture’s relevance, be bold enough to ask yourself this question: “Are my priorities screwed up?”
Truth #2: We have a tendency to major in the minors and minor in the majors. Determining our carbon footprint is a really big deal to many in our nation today. But I’m pretty sure it’s not quite so high on God’s priority list. Last week every major news outlet had a countdown clock running for James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Millions of Americans were waiting with bated breath for his testimony to begin. But something tells me that the Lord wasn’t quite so enthralled with the whole ordeal. A wise man once said, “What is good is the enemy of what is best.” Great point! Americans have many “good” priorities. The question is, “Are they God’s best priorities for us?”
Truth #3: We tend to address symptoms and ignore root causes. God’s word deals with root causes. The greatest problems in our government, schools, courthouses, churches and homes could be dealt with much more effectively if we allowed God’s living word to expose and deal with the root cause of our problems: sin. Just as the best medical doctors strive to exterminate the root cause of disease instead of just treating the symptoms, the Bible specializes in identifying and treating the underlying spiritual root of society’s greatest problems.
Truth #4: When the Bible doesn’t directly address a specific contemporary problem, it always contains timeless principles that can be applied to the specific contemporary problem. For example, nowhere in the Bible do we find any mention of “gay marriage.” But the Bible does give us some clear, timeless principles that deal with both marriage and homosexuality. Long story short, the Bible is clear that marriage and homosexuality are mutually exclusive. In other words, a person must choose one or the other. They cannot coexist.
Truth #5: Contemporary Christians tend to be reactive, but God’s Word is proactive. As the old saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s easy to understand that the best way to address a problem is to nip it in the bud before it festers and becomes unmanageable. The Bible warns us ahead of time about the wages of sin. It cautions us about the dangers of unforgiveness and bitterness taking root. The Bible—in a very real sense—is the most relevant book on earth, because it doesn’t just help us deal with today’s most pressing problems. It addresses tomorrow’s most pressing problems as they germinate today. You’d be hard-pressed to identify any other book that could consistently do what the Bible has proactively done over the past twenty centuries.
So, has the Bible been given a bad rap about its relevance? Yes, it has. It is—hands down—the most relevant book ever written. When we are faced with difficult questions about gender roles, immigration reform, health care or terrorism, it provides timeless principles that help reveal God’s answers. In next week’s article we’ll take a closer look at some of these principles as they relate to a few of the hot-button contemporary issues we face.
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit www.fccvv.com and join us for worship Sundays at 10 am.