II KINGS 16:10-11: “King Ahaz traveled to Damascus and met with King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, where he observed the altar at Damascus. So King Ahaz sent a set of construction patterns of this altar to Uriah the priest. Uriah the priest built an altar, following the plans that King Ahaz had sent him from Damascus and finishing the altar before King Ahaz returned from Damascus.” (ISV)
OBSERVATION: Can the Church be too relevant? One of the objections I hear about the Church today is – “It’s just not relevant!” This usually means that someone objects to the style of music, the method of worship, the style of the building, or the general demeanor of the people. I remember feeling that way as a young man. Now that I am older – I see things from a different vantage point.
The story of King Ahaz of Judah gives us something to reflect on in relation to this question. Ahaz had bought the favor of the King of Assyria, and then traveled to Damascus to visit him. When he was there he became enamored by the altar that he saw. It was much more impressive than the simple bronze altar that was in front of the Temple. As King, Ahaz could not let Judah fall behind the times. So he got a copy of the plans for this altar, gave them to Uriah the priest, and set about making the worship of Jehovah – MORE RELEVANT!
When the altar was finished, Ahaz had it put in the very spot of the bronze altar, and had the bronze altar moved to a less prominent location. It is interesting that he did not remove it completely, but kept it off to the side, in case he had to – “inquire of the Lord”. This is telling within itself. There was something in the deep recesses of Ahah’s heart that knew what he was doing was wrong, yet he did it anyway.
Now – this is not a rant on music or worship style, the architectural design of a church building, or one’s preaching style. This is a caution to the church about its obsession with being “relevant”. If only the church were more relevant we would reach more people – Right? May I suggest that it is not relevance we need in the church today, it is holiness.
When I speak of holiness, I am not speaking about returning to a former day. I am speaking about returning to the Lord!
If there was ever a church that had it all going – it was the church of Laodicea. They were rich, they were relevant, they were on the cutting edge of culture. There was only one problem – Jesus was on the outside of the church, looking in! They were so culturally relevant, so hip, that they did not realize their worship (on the wrong altar) had driven Jesus right out of their meetings. What are they exhorted to do? Are they exhorted to try something new, update their music, change their dress and approach?
NO! – They are exhorted to REPENT!
- “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:17-20 NKJV)
I am convinced that the next great revival in the church will not be ushered in through a new style of music, a revamping of our worship, or a modernization of our church buildings with the latest and greatest technology. No, the next great revival will be ushered in, like every great revival that has come before us – THROUGH REPENTANCE!
Lord, let us hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches!
In Jesus Name!