Many call “FOUL!” when others try to bring relevance to the way the church conducts itself, or when it seeks to contextualize the manner in which the gospel is brought forth. They erroneously assume that doing either effectively changes the Message and distorts the nature of the Man, Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5) In addition, the accusations like “you’re just following the spirit of the age,” and “you’re not being obedient to the faith,” are thrown out without consideration, without humility, and without the slightest re-examination to see “if these things are so.” (Acts 17:11)
“Therein lies the rub.” Reformation or Relevance is to be examined by scripture. The reformers cupped their hands for us to put our foot in so that they might lift us higher and see what they could not. That might sound arrogant, but the church is to be continuously renewed according the transformation of the minds of its members. We’re still being equipped for service, we’re still being built up, we’re still striving for stability, unity, and maturity. We’re still, or should be after the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11,12,13)
Do not be conformed or fashion yourselves (plural) according this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
The pendulum swings towards “what we once were,” instead of “who we’re intended to be.” Others are stuck in preserving for preservation’s sake or changing for change’s sake. The friction between “bearing fruit” & “returning to the root” persists. “Older is better,” some proclaim, but that sort of thinking would make dirt better than the Adam from where he came.
“Ecclesia semper reformanda” (the church always being reformed), was the cry from many reformers, and is the same cry from today’s relevance seekers. What’s the difference between reforming or bringing relevance, when it’s brought under God’s revelation? (The Scriptures)
So, relevance and reformation are not really the issue after all. This issue is, and has always been, where does God want the church now? Where does the Father want us to go? What does the Father want us to say? And, What does the Father want us to do? (John 5:19) Now, some of you may say… “but we already know all of those things!” To me, that smacks of the same arrogance as those who accuse the modern-day questioner. In that light, I have one question:
What’s wrong with always reforming and always seeking to be relevant as long as we use God’s revelation as our guide?