Friday, July 30, 2010

The Safety Check-List

Well, we're down to Chan's last three characteristics of Lukewarm People... and he definitely saved the best for last! And, by best, I mean the most uncomfortable, convicting, take-a-hard-look-at-yourself characteristics. Are you ready? (That's a rhetorical question... of course, you're ready!)

"LUKEWARM PEOPLE feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe because we wear the label Christian or because some people persist in calling us a "Christian nation." p. 78.
Now, when I first read this I thought,"Whew...I don't fall into this category because I'm a Democrat!" But if you read his description carefully, Chan's "criteria" isn't all inclusive. What he's actually saying is that if you consider yourself "safe" for any ONE of these're completely delusional. And, you don't increase your odds, if you will, by having two or three of these characteristics... or even all of them.
There isn't some magic ticket, or rite of passage that guarantees your eternity in heaven. Now, of course, there are certain things that will prohibit you from entering the kingdom, but simply accepting Christ as your Savior doesn't get you a free pass. (I know some opinions will differ from mine on this... and I respect that. For me, I truly take Jamie 2:20 to heart. Our faith, if it is real, will bear fruit through our work for the kingdom... believing is not enough... in my opinion!) This characteristic really takes me back to the quote that's at the beginning of Chapter 4:
"It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity." p. 65.
For me, I keep going back to the words "proud" and "church-going." I think pride in our heritage, our belief in Christ, is completely acceptable. But, sometimes, that pride turns into something ugly and sinister. It morphs into this self-centered righteousness, resulting in judgment of others. We seemingly forget that God is the only one with that right. We wrongly empower ourselves to place judgment on others that do not share our beliefs. We seem to forget that Jesus showed love to everyone. He never shied away from the sinners and outcasts. Quite the opposite. He befriended them, showed them mercy...God's love.
The second part of this really hinges on how we associate the relationship between church attendance and heaven. We all know people that religiously attend church every Sunday... wrongly thinking that their "duty" as a Christian is fulfilled for that week simply by the fact they sat upon a cushioned chair (or painfully hard pew) for two hours on a Sunday morning. We've been doing this long enough now to know that this doesn't cut it...but unfortunately, it's easy to revert back to old habits.
If you look back and read this characteristic again, you might notice something interesting. All the examples that Chan uses are focused on us as individuals. They have to do with milestones in our individual walk of faith or actions that are solely focused on ourselves. WE ARE NOT CALLED TO LIVE THIS WAY! It's time to change... and there's no better time than the present!
Right now, our church is in the middle of a huge renovation. Tuesday night, I dropped by to see how things were going. There was a skeleton crew working INCREDIBLY hard... not very surprising, knowing these people. My husband went to help out another night during the week and those same few people were there working diligently in service to God and our church. So, it wasn't a surprise when we stopped by Friday night to find these SAME few working again... or to learn that these people were there AGAIN today. Their level of commitment and service, honestly, leaves me speechless... but, more importantly, I'm left feeling so incredibly honored to call these people my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are true examples of Christians living out their faith in action... simple, unglamorous action that makes God so incredibly proud.
Your homework this week is to serve... whatever, whenever, however. You decide. Be Christ to your husband, wife, child, neighbor, a stranger. Just be Christ to someone... for the sole purpose of glorifying Him!

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