We Should Look Different
If there were two people who claimed to know a great deal about health and fitness, and one went to the gym regularly and never wavered on his/her diet, and the other only worked out occasionally and ate whatever he/she wanted, who would you think cared about health and fitness? Which one has your respect? Obviously, it is the one who practices what they preach. People who do not live by what they claim to believe discredit themselves and their message: this is what casual Christianity does to the message of Christianity. When we claim to be followers of Jesus, and we look no different than the rest of the world, we discredit the message of Christianity.
Casual Christianity is counterfeit Christianity. A casual approach to obedience isn’t true obedience. The people of the church in Corinth seemed to have a casual approach to the faith, and Paul rebuked them for it severely.
“I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother.” (1 Corinthians 5:1)
In verse 2, Paul points out that the people were proud of themselves in this matter! Today, when non-Christians see Christians living together before marriage, having sex before marriage, and getting divorced at the same rate as non-Christians, they wonder why they would need Christianity. If the non-Christian hears the Christian using the same foul language or telling the same dirty jokes, walking into the same R-rated, filthy movie, or visiting porn sites, why should the non-Christian be interested in Christianity? The need for non-Christians to give their lives over to Christ becomes very confusing and certainly not attractive if it looks no different than any other way of living. If a Christian looks and acts no different than a non-Christian, why should a non-Christian care about Christianity?
“Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” (Ephesians 5:4)
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” (Colossians 3:5)
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
How can we put to death these things if we constantly consume them? If you were told to put to death the chocolate in your life, but every week you ate a piece of chocolate, you haven’t put that to death. In the same way, you can’t put to death the sexual immorality and evil desires in your life if you consume movies each week that feature and celebrate that behavior. And how are you to think on things that are true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and worthy of praise if your intake is the godless, lawless, sinfulness of this world?
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (1 John 2:15-18)
John is very clear: don’t love this world or the things it offers. When we do, we look like citizens of this world when we know that we are citizens of heaven.
“You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. And even though 'I am allowed to do anything,' I must not become a slave to anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Paul makes a very mature point: “not everything is good for you.” Just because you can go and see the movie, tell the joke, laugh at the crude humor, get a divorce, or have sex outside of marriage, doesn’t mean you should. That’s dedication. That’s devotion. That’s being a disciple of Jesus. Next time we will see how casual Christianity isn’t really Christianity at all.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.