Have you ever run into someone who views Christianity more as a hobby than as a true conviction or lifestyle? This type of person probably appears passionate about their walk with Jesus, attends every church social event, and plugs in here and there…at least for a while. Then, when personal trials come along or the church as a whole hits a rough patch, the person is suddenly (noticeably!) absent.
In my church experience, I have witnessed a lot of Christians like this. It’s not that they are bad people or that they don’t have a genuine love for God; however, their overall commitment level is low.
When we consider the dimensions of the Triune God, the color “red reminds us of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. At the same time, it is a symbol of our commitment to Him” (The 3 Colors of Ministry,p. 18). Philippians 2:5-8 sums it up like this:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (ESV)
Taking Up Our Cross
When we study the life of Jesus, we cannot get away from the fact that a walk with Him is one of sacrifice. Jesus clearly said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25, ESV). We see that Jesus Himself demonstrated great sacrifice–up to the point of giving His own life for us. We also see throughout the New Testament that His disciples embraced this lifestyle, many of them dying painful deaths for the same of the cross.
Being followers of Christ comes with a cost. It means sacrificing our lives (literally or figuratively) to God. This self-sacrificial posture can only come out of obedience to God. Many times it is tempting to “take a step back” from the church when things get hard or to “take a break” when we feel that God is not close. After all, that is what the world around us tells us is the right thing to do–sometimes even masked under the guise of “self care.”
Do Not Be Conformed…
Paul warns us against conforming to the pattern of the world. He advises us to renew our minds. “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). God’s standard is different than the standard of the world. Yet being in “God’s will” is worth more than all the worldly approval we could ever have.
Commitment to God is HARD. However, nowhere in the Bible are we told that it’s meant to be easy. We also cannot claim that the Christian walk is “false advertising,” because when we look at the direct example of Jesus’ life, we see that His life was hard, too. However, as Christians we have the hope and promise of a brighter tomorrow, and the promise of eternity in Heaven with Jesus.