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What is Truly Relevant?

February 26th, 2009 at 10:02 am

Our culture is obsessed with being “relevant.”  That which is relevant is that which is pertinent to the current situation we are dealing with at any particular time.

One of the difficulties in trying to make what we teach or do to be relevant to whatever situa-tion we are facing, is that the culture and circumstances of life are changing so quickly that it seems impossible to keep up with them.  Thus, by the time something has been formulated to be relevant for a particular situation, that situation has already changed.  The task is like trying to form a rope into a las-so to use to rescue a person in an out-of-control boat rushing down a raging river.  By the time you get the rope out of your truck, and tie the relevant rescue knots or lasso loop, the boat and person you hoped to lasso are a quarter of a mile further down the river.

This is the dilemma many of us face, whether we are trying to make the method and message of Christianity relevant to a quickly changing culture and its people, or are trying to produce a new product for a quickly changing market.

As a result of the feverish pace of modern change, some intellectuals have thrown up their hands and declared that there can no longer be such a thing as absolute truth.  They conclude that all truth must therefore be relative, and can only be true for the moment, because the next moment is dif-ferent. Their dilemma is real, but their solution is suspect.

I recently read a great quote by a French intellectual, whose statement countermands the “there is no absolute, eternal truth” philosophy.  In fact, her statement demands and requires the existence of eternal truth.  Simone Weil, writing some years ago, said: “To be always relevant, you have to say things which are eternal.”

What does that mean?  It means that whenever there are rapidly changing cultures, life situa-tions, or life circumstances, the only thing that can remain relevant and always applicable is truth that is eternally true, and that which is not therefore affected by the rapid changes of time or in the material world.  The only thing that can always be relevant in every situation, to every person, in any circums-tance, regardless of the speed of change in circumstances, is that which exists and remains consistent and always true despite changes in time and circumstances.

So what is there that is eternal in nature, and therefore can always be relevant to us, no matter what changes occur, or how quickly they happen in this temporal and material world?  There are only two things that immediately come to mind which are eternal and unchangeable by variations in this temporal and material world.  The first is God.  There is only One God who has existed forever, will always exist, and freely exists beyond the influences of time (Psalm 102:12).  He is characteristically the same, yesterday, today, and forever (cf. Hebrews 13:8). God is eternal and does not change (cf. Malachi 3:6).

The second is what God has declared is true.  Because God is by nature eternal, then what God declared to be truth must also involve principles that are timeless, eternal, and thus always relevant.  What is truth for Eternal God must be eternal in order to be eternally true.  God has preserved these timeless truths and principles for us in the Bible.  This is why the Bible has been so widely recognized as relevant to all people who have lived in varied cultures over the last several thousand years.

There is much pressure upon all of us today to discard the biblical truth and principles that gave birth to, and became the DNA of, America’s culture.  The modern alternative is just to go with the flow, change every moment, embrace every fad, and give no thought to consequences.  But as we have already said, the only thing that is always relevant is that which eternally exists apart from the chang-ing influences or fads of a rapidly morphing society.

If you really want to make your life relevant, connect your life to Jesus Christ, and embrace the truth of the Bible.  God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  “To be always relevant, you have to say things which are eternal.”  The only things we can securely build our lives upon are those things that are truly eternal, and therefore are of necessity the eternal truths of God.  These can be found in God’s Word, the Bible.

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