When Jesus returned to heaven, He left 11 disciples behind to continue the work He had begun. Through these men (and through the apostle Paul, who later joined them), the gospel was spread throughout the entire known world.
Today, we are Christ’s followers, yet we find ourselves in a socially complex world. Multitudes are desperately searching for truth, purpose, and a better future. We are the ones whom Christ has charged to lead the way, but, how can we significantly impact our world for Him? For us to achieve this, we must be relevant to our culture. I’m not talking about changing the message of the gospel to fit the times; rather, I’m talking about carrying out the Lord’s charge effectively while being sensitive to the culture in which we live.
Allow me to share some of my thoughts about what could be done. First and foremost, our message in the pulpit and in Sabbath School must provide answers for real problems. We can’t do this unless we are attuned to the Bible’s message. Any problem we face can be dealt with through the excellent counsel in the Word of God. The church must become the place where people of this generation can come to find what they can’t receive in any other place. Sensitivity to the biblical text not only develops genuine faith; it also causes us to re-interpret reality in the light of hope. Secondly, the church must go outside its walls and learn from and minister to the community in which God has placed it. We must do more than place a welcome sign on our door; God has placed us to impact those around us. Our willingness to reach out will be a direct consequence of having a church commited to the Bible. The gospel is about more than our vertical relationship with God; it is about developing a relationship with Him that makes us more like Him— a people devoted to serving others. Jesus said that when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and care for strangers, we have done the same to Him (see Matt. 25:34-40). The bottom line is that we will not be considered relevant if we fail to exercise the ministry of compassion in this hurting world.
ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN BREAK THE CHAINS OF THIS WORLD AND THE SPIRITUAL SHACKLES THAT HOLD HUMANITY CAPTIVE.
Thirdly, the church must believe in, pray for, and depend on the work of the Holy Spirit. He wants to work supernaturally through God’s people. Only the Holy Spirit can break the chains of this world and the spiritual shackles that hold humanity captive. Only He can draw people to the Father. Only He can change people from the inside out. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the apostles that they were able to turn the world upside down. The Holy Spirit will do the same for us today— impart to us the same gifts He gave to the apostles—if we allow Him to.
These things cannot be legislated. It requires more than just telling church folks what the Bible says they need to do. Knowing what needs to be done and actually doing, it can be worlds apart. It all boils down to this: For us to be relevant in our socially complex world, we must fall in love with the Lord. When we do, we will love the things He loves. His will for us will become our consuming passion, so that as Christ gave His life to save a lost world, we will also give ours to reach the lost in today’s society.
Jonas Arrais | General Conference Associate Ministerial Secretary