Posted in christian thought, cultural relevance by Nathan Creitz on October 18, 2005

I have this strange love for Jeopardy. For me, it’s a challenge to see how many trivia questions I can get right. It’s also a learning experience. You learn things you never thought you would know and never thought you would want to know when you watch Jeopardy.

As much as I like the show, I found myself thinking too hard about it the other day. If you know the idea behind the show, then you know that contestants don’t answer trivia questions. Instead, they are given the answer and they must then respond in the form of the appropriate question. Alex might read the answer, “Locals will snicker (as will I) if you pronounce the second w in this ‘shire’ that Stratford’s in.” The appropriate response would be, “What is Warwickshire?” But have you ever thought about how these answers really come across in response to the questions? Imagine if someone actually asked the question, “What is Warwickshire?” and really wanted to know. If someone responded, “Locals will snicker (as will I) if you pronounce the second w in this ‘shire’ that Stratford’s in.” we would look at them kind of funny. “Oh…so that’s what Warwickshire is…great…thanks, pal…that really…helps.”

There are a lot of people that look at Christianity with the same reaction. They look at Christianity and see thousands of antiquated, blue-screened TV monitors with a bunch of answers to questions that they aren’t asking. We say, “Jesus is the Way” and “He is the propitiation for our sin” but who is asking the question “Who is Jesus”? In an effort to be relevant, some of us have bought the lie that if we just make everything look postmodern and up-to-date we will have an impact on culture. Maybe even taking out some of our stuffy theological answers (since no one wants to hear them anyway) and mixing in some compromise, and a few Q&A’s (or should I say “A&Q’s) about pop culture just to let people know how well we fit in with culture.

As followers of Christ, we have to invest in those who don’t know the right questions to ask rather than just stand on a corner and hand out answers. A tract won’t do it anymore. A three minute conversation through Romans isn’t going to convince anyone who is steeped in their own religion of selfishness. We have to help people ask the right questions. What will it take to get someone to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” For some people, starting with questions like, “Who is God?” is necessary. For others, talking about the deity of Christ is important. For many, starting from creation and, through a long process of discovery, questioning, and struggle, helping them walk through the story of God and the certainty of His presence in the world is a must.

What will it take for someone to ask, “Can God be known?” or “What must I do to be saved?” That’s easy. Follow Christ! Everything He said and did is relevant to our current culture. God’s Word, when it is held as Truth, is relevant to our current culture. It’s only when we start compromising and become hypocritical that people from outside look in and see how weak and anemic we have become in our faith. Standing for God’s Word and proclaiming Jesus’ name, might give us a small taste of persecution, but it will never be irrelevant.

The world is in jeopardy and we are throwing out answers that don’t fit the questions that are being asked. We have to give people a reason to ask the right questions. Maybe the first right question someone will ask on the journey toward a right relationship with God will be, “What is different about him?” or “Why does she have so much joy in her life?” The best thing we have going for us is how different and distinct we are, not how similar we are. Relevance is about difference not uniformity and compromise. It’s about standing for Truth because Truth can’t become outdated. Truth can become unpopular and unfashionable, but it will always be relevant.

“What is Warwickshire?”

Who cares?

Don’t answer that.


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