Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 20, 1971
NUMBER 3, PAGE 10b-11

Involvement And Relevancy

Irvin Himmel

Modern churches participate in numerous practices which are completely foreign to true New Testament doctrine. Promoters of such practices find consolation in the idea that they are getting involved, making religion more relevant and meaningful to modern man.

"Involvement" and "relevancy" are two magic words in today's language. They somehow put the stamp of approval on a wide variety of performances. Never mind about the apostolic church, we must relate to our own times. And do not waste time quoting scripture; just get in and participate. Wherever the crowd is swimming, the water is fine, so come on in, and remember that we need a contemporary church. If we do not get involved we cannot relate, and if we fail to relate we are doomed to wither and die!

Before we plunge into some new and daring adventure that may drown us in destruction and perdition, let us examine involvement and relevancy. Let us scrutinize, analyze, study, and ponder the implications of the terminology expressive of a common concept.

One is "involved" when he is drawn in as a participant. Christians are by the nature of their calling an involved people. Christ's followers are taught to be occupied with prayer, Bible study, teaching, exhortation, joint participation in divine service, good works, support of the gospel, worship, and righteous living. It is regrettable that some who wear the holy name of Jesus are not actively engaged in these important pursuits. Their lack of involvement is a detriment to their spiritual growth and to the advancement of the church of which they are members.

God's word warns that there are some things in which the Christian must not become involved. Here are some examples:

1. Fleshly Lusts. We are to "abstain" from unholy desires which war against the soul. (I Peter 2:11). This includes lasciviousness, revelings, drunkenness, drinking parties, and idolatries. (I Peter 4:2,3). Paul refers to such practices as "works of the flesh," (Galatians 5:19-21) and declares that to be involved in these things is to miss the kingdom of God.

2. Works of Darkness. "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11). The same chapter mentions fornication, covetousness, foolish talking, jesting, and uncleanness. No one involved in these sins "hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."

3. False Teachings. John wrote that if one comes and does not bring the doctrine of Christ, "receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (II John 9-11). To be involved with a false teacher so as to lend him support is to share in his evil deeds.

4. Unrighteousness. Paul asked, "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?" A child of God cannot be involved in the practice of anything unrighteous. Rather than be drawn into participation with infidels, idolaters, and the like, we are warned to "come out from among them, and be ye separate." (II Cor. 6:14-18).

In short, the Bible teaches us to "abstain from every form of evil." (I Thess. 5:22, NASB). To be involved in the practice of evil is to forfeit our eternal inheritance. Therefore, before becoming involved in any given situation, the Christian must be sure that he will not compromise the truth, give support to false doctrine, or be led into sin.

A thing is "relevant" if it bears upon, or applies to, the case in hand; it is pertinent, applicable, or related. The dictionary says relevance "implies a traceable, significant, logical connection."

The gospel of Jesus Christ is, and always will be, relevant to man's spiritual needs. The gospel relates to the drunkard, the dope addict, the fornicator, the liar, the thief, the murderer, the slanderer, the immoral person, the hypocrite, the false teacher, the warmonger, the infidel, the lover of money, the factionist, the idolater, the reprobate, the boaster, the sorcerer, the profane man, the talebearer, the prostitute, the lawbreaker, the adulterer, the unbeliever, the blasphemer, the glutton, the rioter, the mocker, the homosexual, the busybody, and all others in engaged in sin. The gospel is applicable to all such people because it is God's power to save them from sin.

God has given to the church the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the lost. The church is necessarily involved with sinners in reaching them with the soul-saving message. But the church must be cautious not to become involved in sin while trying to convert the sinner. The church must not throw aside the authority of Jesus while attempting to persuade men to submit to the rulc of Christ. The church cannot adopt practices and methods which have no traceable, significant, logical connection with the scriptural performance of its divine mission.

Jesus became involved with publicans and sinners in order to relate his teaching to their lives. However, our Lord did not become a publican and the disciples were not advised to take up tax-collecting so they could reach more publicans and no instructions were given for the church to establish a "publican mission," a "publican club," or even a "half-way house for publicans."

Paul was much involved in turning people from idols to the living and true God. The great apostle did not try to relate to the idolaters' by urging young people in the church to sing hymns to the tune of licentious songs, or to have devotionals in the temple of Diana at Ephesus, or to set up a sex information center to try to reach understanding with the priestesses at Corinth, or by inviting a heathen priest to speak in the assembly of the saints.

In their zeal to involve the church in that which relates, many have participated in things from which they should have abstained. Relevance requires reproof of evil. Involvement with the sinner does not justify engaging in sin.

What is the relevancy of light to darkness? How may light become involved with darkness? The answer is simple: Light shines to dispel darkness.

Before getting involved, ask yourself: Involved in what? Before accepting something which is supposed to relate, ask yourself: To what does it relate?

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