Years ago I came across a book by Os Guinness titled Prophetic Untimeliness. In it Guinness asserts, “Never have Christians pursued relevance more strenuously; never have Christians been more irrelevant.” The challenge for the church is to be timely, not trendy. This comes not by being in step with the times, but having the courage to be out of step with the conventional wisdom of our present culture. The popular need for cultural relevance comes because of our fixation with time. But in reality, only that which is eternal is truly relevant. Guinness writes, “It takes the eternal to guarantee the relevant; only the repeated touch of the timeless will keep us truly timely.”
Those words bring to mind the words of the late Dr. Calvin Miller. In his book Preaching, Miller wrote that the greatest challenge preachers face each week is the decision between saying important things or saying interesting things. Or put another way, “Shall I say something important this week? Or shall I settle for merely being interesting?” Well put.
Preaching that truly makes a relevant impact is preaching that works toward helping people become more Christlike. Unfortunately, many sermons are aimed at helping people have better lives, better bodies, better financial security, better relationships, and better marriages (including better sex). If you study the teachings of Jesus, he pointed his listeners to living lives that love God and love others. And he did so without wearing a Rolex or a pair of $500 sneakers. Just sayin’.