Is Christianity still relevant?
Is Christianity still relevant?
The story is told of a young driver, many years ago, who was thrilled to purchase one of the first cars every produced, a Model A. Though the car was quite old, the paint was perfect, and the motor ran great.
That is, it ran great until one afternoon on the highway. Then the motor sputtered and died, resisting all of the young man’s efforts to fix it.
As he labored under the hood with growing frustration, a limousine pulled up, and an old man got out. The elderly gentleman was perfectly dressed, obviously headed to a high society event. He approached the annoyed motorist and asked, “Can I be of any service?”
The young man laughed and said, “No thanks, old man, this isn’t a horse and buggy.”
The old man stood there watching. After several more failed attempts by the younger man, the onlooker said, “Let me give it a shot, maybe I can get it started.” And the young man gave in.
The old man made a few quick adjustments, cranked the motor, and the car came to life. “That’s amazing!,” the younger man cried, “How did you know what to do?”
The old gentleman said, “I’m Henry Ford. I invented this car. The moment I saw the motor, I knew exactly what was wrong.”
Is Christianity still relevant? That’s a common question, but I have to warn you that it’s not exactly the right question. The question should be: is God relevant today? Is the Creator still relevant to His creation? Does the One who made us still know how to fix what is wrong in our world?
The world has changed. There are new inventions every day. Technology advances, new discoveries are made in medicine and science, even our environment seems to be changing.
But what hasn’t changed is people. People are born, people die. They fall in love and marry. People are attracted by money, driven by sexual desires. They get hurt and seek revenge. There are wars, poverty and sickness. And the Bible talks about all of these things.
Is Christianity still relevant? There’s no denying that Jesus Christ is relevant. We only need to read through his teachings to see that. The things he says about love and forgiveness. The things he says about self-control. His teachings about humility and service. There’s no questioning His relevance.
But what about Christianity? What about the religious movement that grew around His teachings? How can a religion that is 2000 years old be relevant?
Europe is full of abandoned church buildings. Once full of life, they now are cold, empty mausoleums. If we’re talking about buildings and rituals and arguments about what the Bible says, then no, Christianity probably isn’t relevant.
But that’s not what Christianity is about. Christianity is the living embodiment of the teachings of Christ. Being a Christian is about being in a relationship with Jesus and trying our best to live like Him.
Some would limit Christianity to what is done in a church building on Sunday. But let’s think about that. How many hours are there in a week? 7×24 = 168. If we sleep 8 hours a day, that leaves 112 waking hours. How many hours does someone spend at church? Let’s say 3 hours.
3 hours out of 112… you can’t call that a Christian life. It’s not even a Christian hobby. Christianity has to be a lifestyle, or it’s nothing at all. Christianity isn’t limited to church buildings. Christians go to church to prepare themselves to go out and live the Christian life.
Jesus said it this way:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matthew 5:13)
Salt can’t do it’s work until it’s out of the salt shaker. Christians can’t be the salt of the earth until they are out in the world. And Jesus went on to say:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16)
Real Christianity is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. The pale shadow of Christianity that is limited to church buildings and church services was never relevant, not then, not now. But Christianity as the imitation of Jesus Christ will always be relevant.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
If you don’t see the relevance of Christianity, let me suggest that you may not be looking at the right Christianity. I’m not talking about certain denominations nor different churches. I’m talking about looking at people who are living out lives committed to Jesus Christ. Lives that are characterized by sacrifice and service. Lives that focus on the poor, the hurting, and the marginalized. Lives that put the interest of others ahead of their own.
Jesus Christ called his followers to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. They were called to be His body, “the second incarnation of Christ,” as some have said. That’s what Christianity is about.
And nothing could be more relevant to this broken world.