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Monday, December 24, 2012

Real Faith Is Not Casual

People get religion and faith mixed up all the time. Some of them come to me and say, "I'm not a very religious person. . ." and I generally interupt with, "Good, neither am I." You see, I go to church a lot but I don't do it for religious reasons. Church should be an exercise of my faith rather than a religious act.

Faith causes me to worship the Almighty whom I believe to be in the room. You can hardly be casual when you talk to someone that you can't see. And you do this with others who can't see Him either! That's just not casual.

Real faith grasps things that can't be known without the commitment that the faith requires. For example, Jesus speaks of laying down His life for His friends. That certainly isn't casual. Then, He calls His disciples friends. He reveals Himself to them because they have been committed to do what He has asked.

John 15:14-15 (ESV) 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
Some people say they are following Jesus but show no actions taken beyond that which is convenient. Following after Him is a denial of all the world says is valuable. It means believing that the relationship with Him is more important than those things which make us happy. That is never casual.

Luke 14:26-27 (ESV) 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Christianity can't be a casual faith. Jesus compared it to selling all that you have in order to have this faith. He spoke of it as having a value beyond anything this world has to offer. He spoke of having this faith to the exclusion of all other things. In other words, you would put it all aside in order to have this faith.

Matthew 13:44-46 (ESV) 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
The Apostle Paul never understood his faith as casual. He left all that he was and had to follow after Jesus. He considered his former things as the refuse that is flushed down toliets. He wanted to follow after Jesus. He did so with the same faith that is required of us. He said it was all worth it. That's just not casual.

Philippians 3:7-11 (ESV) 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

But there are many people who believe that faith is casual. They will complain if the preacher's message is on tithing and justify their complaints because Christmas is coming in three or four months. They refuse to serve Christ in the church because of the lake house they visit on the weekends. They miss worship services and discipleship classes in order to participate in or attend ongoing sport activities. They stay at home if it rains and go to the beach if the sun is shining.

They have tried to make their faith casual. I don't think it is possible. I believe they "got religion" but have no real faith. What do you think James was asking when he said:

James 2:14 (ESV) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

I don't even wonder about it. I don't believe real faith is casual.

What do you think?











1 comment:

high-expressions.blogspot.com said...

Indeed our faith is NOT casual; rather it is a commitment.  Ps Prentis, you said it right - our faith requires commitment.

When we give of our life to the Lord when we say the Sinner's Prayer or say that we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are making a commitment to follow and serve the Master.  When we accept Jesus, we are accepting Him as, both Lord and Savior.  The Free Grace preachers are WRONG to perpetuate the separation of Lordship and Saviorship, saying that it is acceptable to accept Jesus as our Savior without accepting Him as our Lord. 

Jesus is our Master or Lord. We are His followers or disciples or servants.  What does all these mean? They mean we have committed to follow and serve the Lord. A follower or disciple or servant is NOT one who, only for a moment, follow another, or does a thing for another, and then no more; the expectation is that he/she will continue to follow and continue to do or serve. In Luke 9:23, we read this:

Then he {Jesus} said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Two things we see being implied by the words of Jesus:

 1. There is denying involved, denying ourselves. What this means is that, it is not to be, we do as we like (or only when it is convenient to us). When we do as we like, there is no denying. Denying ourselves is when we cannot do as we like; we have to do what God likes. So, how can our faith be casual!  How can it be casual as in you can be casual in your outfit. When we say you can come in casual wear, it means you can come dressed as you like. No, you cannot be casual with the prescriptions of God. Can you be casual with your King or President? No. So much more must you NOT be casual with the King of kings.

2. There is the taking up of our cross, and to do it daily.  Some biblical scholars correctly said that the taking up of cross signifies that we got to be prepared even to face death or persecution.  That implies that we have committed and are to remain committed.  The DAILY doing, too, signifies a commitment is called for; and it is not a one-off thing.

It is stumbling (God views stumbling very seriously) to impress upon brothers and sisters that they can be casual with their faith.  In fact, once we become a Christian we begin our journey of overcoming with the aim of finishing the journey being counted by God as an overcomer (what the first section of the Book of Revelation stresses).  What do we need to overcome?  Do as we like or casualness, is one. We exist to please God, and therefore, what God likes come first. It is when, what we like, is what God likes, will it be alright for us to do what we like.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions