Not a Hobby

By: Northern Seminary

One thing we cannot do with Christian faith is turn it into a hobby. It’s not like stamp-collecting, scrapbooking, sewing, game playing, or any pastime. It can never be something you pick up when you want and put down when you’re bored or have something more important to do.

In the Bible Study posted this week (Action, Attitude, and Abundance – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8) I wrote this:

If we give to God grudgingly, only out of duty, God is not impressed. We might be giving our time, talents or our treasure but God defines that as sowing sparingly if they’re given with the wrong attitude.

God says, “Don’t give reluctantly. Don’t give under compulsion. Give cheerfully. Give yourself joyfully, willingly, to me.”

I love the emphasis brought by the missional church movement that every part of life is changed by Christ, and every part of daily living is infused with Christ. Christian values soak into every intention, attitude, and action. Christian purposes direct every goal.

But here is my question: When was Christianity any different from that?

Almost exactly forty-five years ago I lay in bed at 2:40 a.m. trying to decide about following Christ. One thing I knew for sure, that the decision either meant giving 110% of my life to him (if you can give 110%!) or walking away from my upbringing, church attendance, and Christian friends. At that moment I sensed God like never before, responded ‘yes’ in my heart to him, and was asleep within five minutes. When I woke next morning every part of my being was his, and I have never doubted or changed that commitment.

Christian discipleship has to be like that. This isn’t simply my personal experience or an eccentric Bible interpretation. Show me a way of interpreting Jesus’ words “those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14: 33) that suggests we can treat Jesus as any kind of hobby?

When I was a young man enjoying finding girlfriends someone felt the need to tell me: “When you are faced with someone’s true love, the one thing you cannot do is treat it lightly. Accept it or reject it, but don’t play around with it.” I hope I didn’t.

I hope none of us will do that with Jesus. Amazing love and amazing grace. And one who deserves the response of lives given utterly to him.

February 26, 2013

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