Why It Does Not Seem Relevant
Why do I have to learn this?” “What good is this going to do me in life?” are common complaints heard in school. We have all probably said something similar several times. “I am going to be an artist. Why do I have to learn algebra?” “What good does Latin do for a working man?” So it goes.
We often hear the same thing in church. “Our minister just isn’t relevant.” “The church does not meet the needs of the people.”
Honeybees will drive intruders from the hive, and men are willing to expel whatever they cannot fit into their world. The reason things do not make sense to us is often because they do not fit into the world as we see it. Our world is not large enough to encompass many of the things our elders thought were good for us.
“It must be relevant,” intones the educator, the politician, and the theologian, often without the foggiest idea of what “relevant” is. Therein lies the problem. It might very well be that the most relevant things seem to be intruders into our world. What a strange man Noah was, building a boat out on the dry land. How strange was John the Baptist!
How can I know what is relevant? For the men of Noah’s day to see the relevance of what Noah was doing, there would have to be an expansion of their world. They would have to accept the idea of a God who exercises authority over the world, and Who holds men accountable for what they do. This would have involved the story of Creation and the Fall—stories that by then were probably considered dim and ancient myths that only a few strange fellows like Methuselah, Noah, and Enoch believed. (Can you hear the sophisticate saying, “Whatever happened to that funny guy Enoch? Nobody pays any attention to the things he talked about anymore. Talk about being irrelevant. The economy is good and, besides, we have a party to attend this evening”?)
If your world is only large enough to including eating and drinking, marriage and giving in marriage, it may be very difficult to make sense of a man like Noah.
Our fundamental problem is not meaninglessness, but sin. Everything done by Noah, John the Baptist, and others like him makes sense if we know one thing: the Bible is true and the God of the Bible is the only living God. Once we accept that fundamental truth, the Bible becomes very relevant and meaningful.
Rationalism does not provide such meaning, for man is more than a rational animal. In rationalistic ages satire and absurdity dominate literature and the arts, for people do not live by the rational measures and provide much grist for the mills of the bitter.
The modern answer is to confront meaninglessness with irrationality. “The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent to the concerns of such puny creatures as we,” wrote Carl Sagan in Cosmos. There is no meaning, no sense, in anything. Seinfeld, the most popular comedy of the nineties, is a sitcom about nothing; about pathetic losers who lie, cheat, fornicate, and giggle uncomfortably through their pathetic little world.