Relevance should not be our goal, but neither should irrelevance—either pursuit can derail us. Jesus was simply relevant. He wasn’t chasing it or running from it. He ministered in the context of His culture without being contaminated by it. He was a friend of sinners and this fact bothered a lot of people.
The distinguishing marks of a follower of Christ should be the characteristics of Christ himself. Jesus was not into image management, regulations, or checklists of behavior. His mark was the fruit of the Spirit and it looked like this: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. It also looked like this: The undeniable works of God. We call this fruit, and this is the proof of true discipleship (John 15:8).
Cults and religious sects can put on “the look” and control behavior but they cannot manufacture fruit. Jesus did not put on special clothes or make up extra rules to live by. He did not stay away from sinners or build a wall and moat around his life and ministry. He lived among the people and looked like them, yet He still stood out. The difference was that He bore the fruit of the Spirit and the evidence of the works of His father. These radiated like the dawn of a new day. And nothing could be more relevant! Gospel living is relevant.