Summary: People talk about being “relevant,” even in the church. Being relevant is not bad; in truth, being relevant is most important. But what do we mean by “relevant”? That’s the big question.
People talk about being “relevant,” even in the church. Being relevant is not bad; in truth, being relevant is most important. But what do we mean by “relevant”? That’s the big question.
To some, being relevant in the church means that worship is exciting, not boring. We want to do something exhilarating, not the ‘same-old, same-old.’ Everything must be an experience, an event. We want to be like Jesus’ disciples and live on the thrilling mountaintop, not go trudging down into the shadowed valley.
Today, we remember Christ’s Transfiguration, when Jesus revealed part of His divine glory before His disciples. But as exciting as that was, God had something even more important than the dazzle of brilliance and the flash of light. Amid the awe-inspiring visual effects, the stirring spectacle of it all, God directed Peter, James, and John to something that seemed irrelevant: words. He told them, “Listen to Him!” Listen to Jesus!
God told the three disciples not to remember what they saw. It was what they heard that was important. “Listen to Him!” For it’s ears, not eyes.
On the mountain, they saw a flashing, partial unveiling of Jesus’ glory: a blaze of God’s glory gleaming for a moment as Jesus pulled aside the veil of His human nature. It’s the glory Jesus always had, the glory of God from eternity, which He didn’t lose when He became human. But He put away most of His power as He lived among us, being our Savior, working to buy us back from sin, death, and the devil.
On that day, Jesus peeled back a layer of His human nature, and for a moment, He was ablaze in glory. Jesus was “transfigured”; His appearance was transformed and changed. He beamed as brilliant light. Moses and Elijah appeared there with Him. It was a mini-glimpse of heaven here on earth.
But what do the disciples want to do? They want to stay and build tents on the Mount of Transfiguration. They want nothing to do with what Jesus will do when He trudges down the mountaintop, to Calvary, where God will pour out His blood and be the Scapegoat who will carry our sins to death. They don’t want the cross-and-death talk that Jesus spoke of before they climbed to the mountaintop.
Are we so different from the disciples? Are you tired of hearing Christ and Him crucified? Like the disciples, you want something that you think is relevant, something exciting. That’s what our sinful natures crave. We want a Mount-of-Transfiguration experience and forget about the cross of Mount Calvary.
We’re no strangers to the disciples’ wish to stay high on the mountain. Our wish to revel in the climax of the mountain drives us to seek soaring emotional highs, and our ideas of relevance. It seeks music that stirs the heart, even if it starves the soul. The disciples, like us, want anything and everything but suffering, death, and blood. For to us, to our sinful natures, that isn’t relevant.