I hope every pastor has asked themselves this question. If they haven’t, they probably aren’t paying very close attention. But I’m being honest when I tell you that I can answer positively almost every time I ask. There’s a place in this world for Christian ministers.
But today I’m thinking specifically about the act of preaching. People use the term “relevant” all the time to talk about preaching. “Her sermons are really relevant to my life.” Or “He really makes the bible relevant to people.” I’m not sure I’ve got a better vocabulary for talking about sermons yet, but I’m pretty sure this one is pointing us in the wrong direction. (even if I’m really flattered when people say these things about me.)
One of the things good preaching does is point out all the cultural and historical realities that shaped the Bible so that people in the 21st Century can see the similarities and differences between that context and their own. But I think calling this, “making the bible relevant” is dangerous.
We’re talking about a book we call “The Word of God” – the story of God’s life with, in and through the people of Israel. The story of Jesus of Nazareth, written by his closest friends and advocates. We’re talking about a compilation of writings that’s been transforming lives and changing the world for two thousand years.
We don’t go to scripture to find out if it’s relevant. We go to scripture so it can tell us which parts of our lives are irrelevant. And which parts are extremely relevant to God’s plan for the people around us.
Now if I can just figure out how to write sermons with that goal, we’ll all be in business.