Francis Chan, in his great little book entitled Crazy Love shares the following take on the state of discipleship among contemporary followers of Jesus, the ones who have the chosen to call themselves “Christian”:
Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.
If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream.
Or, to use another metaphor more familiar to city people, we are on a never-ending downward escalator. In order to grow, we have to turn around and sprint up the escalator, putting up with perturbed looks from everyone else who is gradually moving downward.
I believe that much of the American churchgoing population, while not specifically swimming downstream, is floating away from Christ. It isn’t a conscious choice, but it is nonetheless happening because little in their lives propels them toward Christ.
Perhaps it sounds as though I believe you have to work your to Jesus. I don’t. I fully believe that we are saved by grace, through faith, by the gift of God, and that true faith manifest itself through our actions. As James writes, “Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead” (2:17). The lives of many people who call themselves “Christians” in America lack manifestations of a vital and active faith.
And this, to be perfectly honest, frightens me. It keeps me up a night. It causes me to pray desperately and fervently for my congregation, for the groups of people I speak to, and for the church as a whole.
I still vividly recall my reaction when I first read these words by Francis Chan. Here I was, relaxing in my office with my feet propped up and enjoying this book thoroughly. Then I ran across this passage and the words slapped me in the side of the head like a 2 x 4. Yes, I thought, many Christians are indeed living the kind of lives Chan was describing. But the Holy Spirit had no intention of allowing me the luxury of “tsk tsk-ing” down this road of thought. Instead, I was brought to the immediate conviction that this was the kind of life I was living.
Why not spend some quiet time prayerfully reflecting on Pastor Chan’s words. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight, discernment, and if appropriate, conviction in regards to these themes. Are you on fire for Christ? Or, are you, like so many of us, lukewarm?
Think about it.
© L.D. Turner 2011/All Rights Reserved