Have you ever wondered if this is all there is? Is being a Christian just reciting prayers in the morning, reading obscure passages in the Bible, and driving to church every Sunday? Are we bound to lead uninteresting lives, existing merely as unsatisfied, slipping-into-sin humans halfheartedly trying to follow God while caught up in meaningless fads, expensive toys, and questionable movies like everyone else? Will we one day marry only to find out that fairy tales lied to us about the supposed “happily ever after” part of romance? Is the Christian life ultimately just a rat race, with spiritual highs every now and then due to passionate speakers, and an unavoidable rut of sin and spiritual slothfulness waiting just around the corner? I write today to tell you that this is not what God wants for His church, and this is certainly not all there is to life, no matter what your experiences tell you, and no matter what your friends have told you in the past. Trust me. There’s more than this.
A lot of us could be called, “normal Christians.” We do what the rest of the Christian world is doing. We try to go to church every Sunday, maybe getting involved in some low-commitment activities like potlucks or Bible studies. We try to have about 5-20 minutes of our day set aside for devotionals, mainly consisting of a short prayer for the day and a read-through of a few verses or a chapter in the Bible. We try to be “good” in public, and we try not to swear, drink, or smoke. But is this really all we’re supposed to do as Christians?
I do not believe that any single one of God’s elect followers are called to live as “normal Christians.” This is an absurd idea that seems to be the unspoken belief of thousands of Christians today. I do realize that God calls some Christians to spread His Word to lost souls across the globe, while at the same time calling others to spend their days living seemingly “normal” lives raising families and witnessing to co-workers. But never are we to embrace the notion that Christians are ok being truly normal. To be normal means to not stand out. To be normal means to live as others around us live. To be normal means to follow the crowd, not doing anything different, but falling victim to the current system. This is the opposite of what Jesus taught.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
We are the light of the world. What does a light do? It provides clarity and truth. It shines in the darkness in order to make known what is reality. The world around us is hopelessly lost chasing greed, lust, and pride. We are to make the unchanging truth of God known in the midst of this mess! We are to be different! We are to lead the world to a greater and brighter purpose! But how can we be the light of the world when we practically are the world?
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – James 1:27
I’m going to be blunt here. Going to the latest movies, wearing the latest styles, and following the latest pop stars is not the way to keep yourself unstained from the world. By partaking in these activities, we are identifying ourselves with the world and reducing the border of our moral standards to a mere “going over the edge” idea. We say that we’ll watch the PG-13 movies and maybe an R rated one every now and then, but never those really bad R rated flicks. We admit that we follow the coolest non-Christian bands constantly, but we quickly add that we won’t “go too far” and that “it’s just music.” We buy those new sexy jeans on the clearance rack and say that we “got them on sale” to cover up the fact that they’re just “a little tight.” Then we go to church on Sunday and praise God from whom all blessings flow. This is hypocrisy.
Why do we always seem to think that it’s ok for us Christians to partake in the pleasures of the world? Why do we always tell ourselves that our boundaries are correct (no matter how questionable), and get all defensive when others criticize our actions? “Don’t judge me!” we say (see my post, “Don’t Judge Me!“), while we move along through life chasing fleeting feelings and neglecting to “make time for God” again and again. Far too many of us live like this, whether we know it or not, and it’s destroying us every day.
Did you think the Pharisees were the only ones who were white-washed tombs? I believe we ourselves are falling into the same trap of putting religion in a box and pulling it out only when we need to, while consistently pursuing the world’s definition of happiness. We need a revolution of Christians who are truly willing to put Jesus first in their lives. We need those who honestly and genuinely love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and who love Him enough to serve Him in the real world to the utmost and without compromise, no matter what that looks like. Are you one of these legends of the faith? Do you want to be one? I certainly and earnestly desire such devotion to God, and pursue it daily.
Why do what everyone else is doing? That sounds like a pretty boring existence to me. Rise up and defeat the lies that are bombarded against you every day! Find out what the truth is, and live according to it! That is exciting! That is meaningful! Learn how to honestly yearn for God’s presence, and pour solid effort into your relationship with Him. That is how to find pure, lasting joy.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17
We must not accept the stale, wasted life that the world has to offer us. Instead, we need to realize that being a Christian is so much more than just performing certain actions. It’s the reverent worship of the Almighty Being who not only created the universe, but died so that we could come to know Him and serve Him for eternity. We have the greatest privilege of all. Let’s reach out and take it. Sure, it’ll be hard. Sure, it’ll require us to change all our greatests to leasts and all our leasts to greatests. But it’s worth it, believe me. I’ve seen just a glimpse of what’s possible when someone gives God their all, and it’s the most beautiful thing in all this earth. There’s more than this pathetic world, and we can grasp it. We just need to be willing to humble ourselves before Christ, leave temporal pleasures behind, and follow God relentlessly.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18