Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Are You Serious? by Mike DeCamp

Christianity 101-Are You Serious?

There are some things in life that simply demand that we face them with more seriousness. Taxes come to mind. Fail to take them seriously, blow them off and you’ll find yourself in trouble with a little group known as the IRS. How about dealing with a major illness? People who are told they have cancer generally buckle down into a very thought-out and careful treatment regimen. Even something as simple as trying to reach a personal goal needs to be faced with seriousness if one is to truly reach beyond themselves.

In 2009, I made a personal commitment to ride my bike 100 miles in one day. I made that commitment in the spring, and the plan was to do the ride before the end of the summer. I’m not sure how many of you have ever ridden a bike a hundred miles, but it isn’t easy. It takes training, preparation, planning and commitment. I had to think through how I was going to approach the training, and build up my body’s endurance over time. Additionally, I had to plan a route, work out a support system for drinks and food for the day, and develop a strategy for how I would ride the distance. It took serious thought.

I think as we delve into the subject of Christianity, it is fair to say that we should enter into the topic with a serious mind. Many in the USA today often seem to waltz in and out of church like it was going to the movies. Is it entertaining enough? Is it too stiff or too loose? Are the seats comfortable? Do I like the preacher?

Others seem to think they are Christians by genetics. I was born in America, so I’m a Christian.  I’m not Jewish or Islamic, so I’m a Christian…right?

Whoa! Not so fast, partner. I think maybe we need to take a serious look at Christianity. It isn’t something to take lightly. After all, a person died to get this thing going and many others have died along the way trying to be faithful to the God who gave His Son. Back in the early days of the Way of Christ, folks would be thrown into prison, flogged, fed to lions, used as human torches, or hung on a cross simply for professing a faith in Christ. This was back before a cross was a piece of jewelry. Rather, it was an instrument of a torturous death, capital punishment.

Christianity is serious business.

Maybe you’ve just started looking into this Christianity stuff.  That’s great.  Be serious about it.  Investigate. Look at the details of scripture, and don’t simply take another person’s word for what it says. Study it for yourself. In the Bible, in the Book of Acts, there are a whole group of people from a village called Berea that are called noble because they didn’t take the Apostle Paul’s word for what was true. Rather, they listened to him, and then they researched it for themselves to see if it was true. (Acts 17:10-12) Follow their lead. Don’t take mine or anyone else’s word as gospel. Check out the details for yourself.

If you are a Christian, then my question to you is: Just how seriously do you take your faith?

Is it just another facet of your complicated life? Or, is it your driving force, your source of strength, and your hope for your future? When you read the scriptures, do you allow it to impact you, or does it roll off like some nice sayings from an old book?  Do you read the scriptures?

I wonder what would happen if Christians began to once again take the Bible seriously. What if Christians everywhere began to really love their neighbors as themselves? Or, they began to consider the needs of other people before they considered their own? Hmmm.  Would our culture be changing us or would we be changing our culture?

What about you and me? Can we begin to take a serious look at Bible passages? Are we letting them impact our daily walk?

Let’s take a look at a few verses with our new “serious” perspective. Let’s consider what “serious” looks like in this sampling.

Matthew 6:31-34
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Take a few moments to consider…if we are really serious…what does it look like to seek the kingdom of God FIRST? How would priorities change? How would lifestyles change? Are you doing this already?  Or, would a serious look drive a serious change?

I John 3:16-18
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

What would it look like if we as individual Christians stopped talking about loving others and actually began to earnestly do something about it? Bob Harper from the Biggest Loser yelled at a competitor a few seasons ago that she should “Stop talking and just do it!” I think that is what the Apostle John is saying. Stop talking about feeding the hungry, and get them some food. Stop talking about …you name it…and get it done.

What would it look like if we all did that?

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Is your faith culture-driven or God-driven?  Would a serious look change it?

As I bring this article to a conclusion, let me just say it again. Christianity is serious business. We are talking about things like death, redemption, salvation, and eternity. Sin is a real thing and it has consequences—both now and beyond.  Still, the heart of the story is how God loves us.  It’s all about having a relationship with him.

Will you take a serious look?

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