samhaist

Tullian Tchividjian on “relevance”.

In books, loving jesus, music, quotes, recommendations on January 4, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Today I started Tullian Tchividjian’s excellent (so far) book Unfashionable and let me tell you, my copy already has a lot of underlining in it. I just thought I would share a statement he makes about the church and “relevance”:

“Ironically, the more we Christians pursue worldly relevance, the more we’ll render ourselves irrelevant to the world around us. There’s an irrelevance to pursuing relevance, just as there’s a relevance to practicing irrelevance. To be truly relevant, you have to say things that are unfashionably eternal, not trendy. It’s the timeless things that are most relevant to most people and we dare not forget this fact in our pursuit of relevance.”

Don’t get me wrong, I (and Tullian) think it is incredibly important for Christians to be actively engaging and, as Andy Crouch puts it, creating culture, but if all we do is relate to and copy what is “cool” in whatever culture we find ourselves in, we don’t look like a people who have been changed by the sheer grace of God. If our number one goal is to be a “cool church” then we are already on the wrong track. We need to keep the gospel central, even if it means sounding completely uncool. Paul does call the cross a “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23) and Jesus says that “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). We have the best news in the world, but that news runs completely counter to the world’s way of thinking.

Besides, we tend to be pretty behind the times. If I hear one more song on K-Love that sounds like U2 circa 1987, I’m going to flip out. While U2 circa 1987 was, in my humble opinion, one of the best seasons of rock and roll, we really don’t need more worship songs trying (and failing) to sound like the intro of “Where the Streets Have No Name”. Oh wait… did I just try to be cool by ripping on Christian rock? I still have some work to do…

Ok fine. I have to leave you with one more quote…

“We can’t engineer God’s transcendent presence; we can only fall on our faces and beg for it. In fact, we rob this world of the opportunity to see God high and lifted up–above and beyond us–when we try to program him and fit him into contemporary categories of “cool.” When the size of God grips us more than the size of our churches and leadership conferences, and when we become obsessed with surrendering our lives to God’s sovereign presence, only then will we be redemptively different and serve as God’s cosmic change agents in a world yearning for change.”

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