Casual Christianity

When I taught Sunday School this past Sunday, I shared the story of the first time I preached a sermon.  It was Spring of 1991.  The occasion was a chapel service at Bryan College.  I don’t remember the text.  What I do recall, however, is my passion for my subject and a particular song I played during my conclusion.  Let me share the words of the song.

It’s more than a wish, more than a daydream
More than just a passing whim
Yes, I’ve said this all before
A thousand times or more
I don’t wanna waste my life in chains of sin

Chorus

I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be a casual Christian
I don’t wanna live, I don’t wanna live a lukewarm life
Because I wanna light up the night
With an everlasting light
I don’t wanna live the casual Christian life

This life is filled with strong distractions
One pulls from the left one from the right
I’ve already made up my mind
Gonna leave this world behind
Gonna live my life a living sacrifice.

This song, “Casual Christian”, was performed by the Christian contemporary duo Degarmo and Key.  From the moment I heard it, I was struck by how consistent the lyrics were with the concept of discipleship mentioned by Jesus and the writers of the New Testament.  I was a young believer at the time, zealous for Christ and the things of Christ.  I was also disturbed by so many of my fellow students who seemed to have only a passing interest in the Lord.  My goal had been clear:  To motivate my fellow students to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33).  To this day, I doubt that message made any lasting difference to those in attendance. (How many sermons actually do?)

Check that.  I think it made a difference in the life of the preacher.

This past Sunday I taught Philippians 3:1-17.  Paul’s admission that he had not yet arrived spiritually (3:12) has always stood out to me.  His desire to press on (3:12, 14) also encouraged me.  As a new Christian, I was instructed* that I was commanded to make progress in my faith.  One example of this was another first in my life.  The first time I taught the Bible was at a Bible study in Misawa, Japan.  Cadence International missionaries Ray and Char Hauser hosted a singles’ Bible study on Wednesday nights.  One fall they decided that we would study 2 Peter 1:2-11.  Each of the singles was assigned one of the character traits listed by the Apostle Peter.  I was asked to teach on the subject of brotherly kindness (2 Pet. 1:7).  I should have been required to study self-control (1:6)!  While I may not recall what I said nor how it went (I was scared and felt very ill-equipped), I do remember that I enjoyed studying God’s Word.

I still do.

My 31st spiritual birthday is rapidly approaching.  I’ve matured a bit since that first Bible study in the late 1980’s and that first sermon in the early 1990’s.  Though often half-heartedly, I have attempted to “forget what is behind and strain forward to what lies ahead” (Phil. 3:13).  With Divine assistance, I have tried to be diligent to make certain about God’s calling and choosing me (2 Pet. 1:10).

What was true of me almost twenty-five years ago remains true of me today.

I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be a casual Christian
I don’t wanna live, I don’t wanna live a lukewarm life

What about you?

Let’s not settle for the status quo!  This axiom is true:  If you are not moving forward, you are moving backwards.  If we are not increasing in godliness (2 Pet. 1:8), we will become useless and unfruitful in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:8).  Without a doubt, I do not want to be described as either blind nor someone who has forgotten that he is forgiven (2 Pet. 1:9).  If you are a believer, you don’t want to have this said of you as well.

Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14)!

Casual Christianity is not for us!

*How grateful I am for Ray and Char Hauser, the Protestant chaplains in the Air Force, the brothers and sisters in Christ in Japan and during my college years who spoke truth into my life.

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