Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 6 of “Compelled – Living the Value of Culturally Relevant” (LISTEN HERE).
Almost every week I was asked after one of my Sunday sermons, “So what?” “Jesus died for me, so what?”
The question wasn’t asked from a lack of faith or understanding of the truth that was presented, it was a challenge to me to make the truth relevant. WHY does this truth matter to ME TODAY?
When something is “irrelevant” it is identified as something that has no significance or important to me in the moment or situation. Something that is “relevant” is something that IS significant and important to me in that moment or situation.
The challenge of carrying out the value of being “culturally relevant” is not just helping people understand what something SAYS, and not even just what it MEANS, but WHY it matters…to them!
How many times as a kid going through school did you ask, “Why do we have to learn this?” In the moment the reading of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet just didn’t seem to have that much importance (I made it through the class – but other than using it for this illustration, not sure how much value Shakespeare and his writings have added to my life.) We have all asked the question and we have all taken time to evaluate “Why something matters” when we determine if we are going to give it our time, energy and effort.
Sure, the standard answer to the students question, “Why does this matter?” is that you will need it in the future. True…something could take on more relevance in the future than it does in the present. However, to engage a culture, we must take time to help them understand WHY the truths of the Bible matter. Struggle with the “so what” factor.
An example of this is the Apostle Paul in Athens. After taking a bit of time walking around the city and observing people and their habits, he made this observation:
Acts 17:22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god.
This short statement is profound in Paul’s ability to observe and connect with a culture around him. Notice that he didn’t go in and try out the temple prostitution or bring an offering to the temple statue, he observed the culture and noticed what was important to it. They were a very religious culture and honoring their gods was so important they wanted to make sure that no god was missed…even the one they didn’t know or didn’t even know they didn’t know.
So what Paul was going to share was going to answer the unknown:
Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
The “So what” factor was making known what the people didn’t know. It filled a void in their religious habits and answered the question that was lingering in the culture, “What if there is another god?” Not only did Paul get to answer the question, but he got to share more about the true God and all he did for the people that the many other gods didn’t. It was a message that mattered…to the people…today!
What do you notice about the culture around you? What questions are they asking that answers are allusive? What situations continue to perplex people? What holes in life are left unfilled?
Only when we understand the culture and the voids they have in life can we bring a Word of God to answer the question, give clarity to a situation or fill the void.
Here’s two examples:
To a person who has struggled with perfectionism and finding acceptance from her parents from little on, the Gospel matters because it shares boldly and clearly that God our Father loves and forgives EVEN THOUGH we are not perfect. He accepts us through Christ as his Son or Daughter.
To a person who didn’t know why they were still alive, the truth of Scripture communicates value and purpose to each individual.
The list goes on because every individual is different. Yet the Word of God is relevant for every individual.
Help them know what it SAYS, what it MEANS, and why it MATTERS.
Apply: Think of someone in your life who is going through a challenging season of life or asking tough spiritual questions. What insight from Scripture answers the question they are asking in a real, understandable way?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your Word and the way it brings answers and hope to every aspect of our lives today. AMEN.