Jesus’ incarnation shows the importance of meeting people where they are, so being relevant is important. Adapting to where people are tends to make a difference in their receptivity to the Gospel and their ability to understand and learn (1 Cor. 9:19-22). But, how far do we take it? Relevancy alone won’t bring eternal results.
What’s Needed More Than Relevancy
Jesus does set the example for us, which the Apostle Paul followed as seen when He wrote, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22). Yet, Jesus Himself said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5). And, throughout his epistles, the Apostle Paul repeatedly acknowledged the need of divine power for anything of significance to happen in ministry (1 Cor. 3:6-7). No matter what words or strategies we use, people aren’t going to truly understand and accept truth without the Spirit of God at work (1 Cor. 2:11-14). Consequently, more than relevancy, we need God’s power. Seek to be relevant but don’t rely on that.
Relevancy does tend to help people in their understanding and motivation. Yet, if we aren’t careful, it can also be seen as a manipulative tool. Are we just doing certain things to pull people in or because we truly care enough to meet them where they are? God clearly states that we can do a lot of good things for the wrong reasons. Our words become like “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” without love. No matter what we do, we “gain nothing” of eternal value if we do not have love. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Consequently, more than relevancy, we need to be real in our love for people. Seek to be relevant but for the right reasons.
Relevancy does tend to grab people’s attention. Using what interests them makes it seem more palatable. Yet, we must guard against letting a need to be relevant turn into a quest to gain people’s approval. When that happens, we too easily can slip into compromise. It chips away at our integrity as we become more and more about pleasing people than pleasing God (Gal. 1:10; Col. 3:23-24; 1 Thess. 2:3-5). Consequently, more than relevancy we need a focus on God Himself. Seek to be relevant but keep God first and foremost.