I read it several weeks ago and it grabbed me like barbed wire snags your shirttail.
Now, wait. I don’t care how long you’ve been a Christian. I don’t care what you profess, who you are, who your daddy was, what position you hold, how long you’ve preached and evangelized or how many Sundays you’ve been in church without missing.
It doesn’t matter how much tithe you pay or on how many boards and committees you sit. It doesn’t matter how often you liberally give to benevolent causes through the Church. I’d guess the first time you laid eyes on this, you gave it a quick glance and got your eyes back over here on what I’m writing.
Made you nervous, reading that. Didn’t it?
I know it did. It made me nervous, too. I thought to myself, “I really ought to save that so I can use it when it gets a little closer to Easter.” It’s a little closer to Easter and since the Holy Spirit woke me up with this on my mind, I’m figuring He wants more than just me to read it and think about it.
Each year around Easter, I stop long enough to watch THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. Yes, I know it’s a movie, created by fallible, imperfect men and women. I’m aware many of those actors and actresses went on to play other, less, ah, clean roles.
I’m also aware the statement above is grammatically incorrect. Isn’t it amazing the ends to which we’ll go to pick and find fault with something to keep from letting its truth settle inside?
I still believe it was inspired. I watch it to remind myself:
- My God DID go to the Cross to give me the option to be free from the things that put Him there.
- When He proved His power over death, He offered that freedom to every one of us – including those who wanted nothing to do with Him or His teachings. It’s not automatic; no relationship is. But He gave us all the choice. Every one of us can now choose.
- Jesus was surrounded by religious people all saying in one way or another, “Hey–relax, will ya? You’re way too rigid, dude. This cut-and-dried, black-and-white stuff won’t get you a following, man. Just ease up on all the rhetoric about sin and hell and pride and–you know: all that unpleasant stuff. Turns people off. And, down deep, most of ’em are pretty good folks. You’re callin’ ’em out, here, and making things a little difficult for the rest of us.”
Difficult. Right. Those are the very attitudes that make it tough to go back up and read that little statement again. Go ahead. Scroll back up and read it over again.
The last time you read it, you probably did what I did. Wow. Strong words. That’s a real good saying. I’ll have to remember that.
Can I gently suggest when you reread it this time, you don’t let yourself off the hook? This time, choose what you’re going to do with that.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a nodding acquaintance with God or don’t know Him at all. The truth of His Cross is right there, it included you in the payoff, and you have a choice to make just as I do.
“Wait. You’re using present tense, there. Aren’t you already a Christian?”
Yep. Think about the nature of a relationship. It’s a daily recommitment: “I’m honoring this connection between us today. I’m walking in all the virtue and integrity I’m able today. I choose to walk by faith in God and His Word today.”
He did it for you, too.
“Well, hey, a person’s gotta have a little fun in this life, y’know?”
Sure, I do. I enjoy having fun and relaxing as much as the next guy or gal. I also know how easy it is when everyone around is relaxing a little too much, and the drift into compromising one’s own convictions and personal standards begins to happen and it gets easier to sort of blend into the crowd . . .
They’re all believers. Say they all love Jesus. Attend worship regularly. And they really are fine folks. And they’re my friends. They’re—
Choosing. I get it. I love and appreciate them, too, just as I love and believe in you. There’s no condemnation here; that’s not my place.
Mine is to keep my colors as clear as I can. It’s to keep my image from getting blurry and indistinct in a world increasingly embracing an amoral nonethic that placatingly grins at God’s truth.
I know that one day I’ll need to give account for my choices. I don’t want even one of you into whose life and experience I’ve written to be able to honestly say, “He never leveled with me and told me the truth.”
I think you know better. I also think you know when I say I love you and believe in you, I mean it.
I hope you consider all this as you make your choices. Let me leave you with this favorite quotation from Teddy Roosevelt. To me, it can as easily apply to an insipid, nonthreatening, pliant strain of Christianity that costs nothing and therefore has no real value beyond lulling its dues-paying adherents to sleep.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
© D. Dean Boone, February 2015