By Reverend Donovan A. Coley, Sr. | Donovan@TheRescueMission.net.
The following is excerpted and edited from a sermon series, “Living Right In a World Gone Wrong: Relevance” by Rev. Donovan Coley, CEO of the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (www.TheRescueMission.net). Rev. Coley delivered this sermon on January 17, 2016 at Pathway Community Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. To see or hear Rev. Coley’s sermon in its entirety, click here. For more information about Clinton, visit http://www.therescuemission.net/about-us/staff/donovan-coley.
As the CEO of a ministry that provides resources and services to the poor and homeless here in Fort Wayne, there is, so to speak, a “great cloud of witnesses” scrutinizing our work at the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission. From the New Deal of the 1930s to the Great Society of the 1960s to Welfare-to-Work Reforms of the 1990s, there are so many competing schools of thought about what constitutes “relevance” in homeless service and ministry to the poor.
The Fort Wayne Rescue Mission holds fast to this conviction: Relevance must be measured as God’s relational terms for man, not man’s relational terms for God. Don’t get me wrong: I am just a man, and I work with fellow mortals at the Rescue Mission and we don't get it right all the time. But we maintain a conviction that we will be relevant to homeless ministry in Fort Wayne only insofar that we reflect God’s laws and principles, not man’s fashions and fancies.
In Matthew chapter 4 and 5, you'll notice that Jesus does not defend his relevance. He assumes his relevance. But he challenges our relevance, if we are apart from him.
Matthew 5:11-16 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." -- Jesus Christ, recorded in the book of Matthew.
Jesus was clearly confident in his relevance. Nobody was wondering about Jesus’ relevance to tax collectors, homosexuals, adulterers, or any other human category. By extension, nobody was wondering about his disciple’s relevance, insofar that they followed his example. Jesus taught, proclaimed, and healed, and he was evidently pretty convinced that this qualified himself as “relevant.” Jesus’ message was about the Kingdom of God, the very essence of “relevance” to man’s condition.
Jesus, however, teaches that if his followers want to be truly relevant to the culture, then these “Beatitudes” must mark the believer’s thinking. From a contextual perspective, Jesus is saying, “If you're going to be a kingdom person, you are going to experience poverty in spirit, mourning, meekness, appetite for righteousness, mercy, persecution, purity in heart, peacemaking and so on.” The experience of these things is a key measure of your relevance to your culture.
By English: Cpl Erik Villagran [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons