I was preparing some sermons for the meeting I will preach at Franklin County church of Christ March 8-12. As I read the following words it gave me some moments to reflect on my faith, my work and my endeavors for the cause of Jesus.
“Most people in our culture seem to think that it’s okay to be religious so long as you don’t take your religion too seriously. Many people today treat religion and faith as a kind of hobby, as if some people are into stamp collecting, some people are into building model airplanes, and other people are into religion. In this way of thinking, religious faith is something you do in your spare time, something you do for recreation to relax. That much religion most people in our culture can accept.
“But when someone starts taking their faith seriously, that’s when people get worried. When people start to let their faith influence their decisions and their lifestyle choices—who they vote for, how they spend their money, how they raise their kids—that’s when people get nervous. People start whispering words like “fanatic,” “zealot” and even the dreaded word “fundamentalist.” Many people envision people of faith as wide-eyed fanatics storing up extra food and water in their garage while they await Armageddon with guns in their basement.
“So when we say that our mission as a church is to reach unchurched people with Christ’s love and to help them grow into fully devoted followers of Jesus, that makes some people a little nervous. “Just get them cleaned up, a little religious, just enough to be good for society, but not fully devoted.” “Fully devoted followers” sounds too radical, too dangerous, too extravagant. Yet when it comes to the Christian faith, nothing less than full devotion to Jesus will do. In fact, people being baptized are making a stand to do just that, to live as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. That’s what baptism is all about, a confession that faith in Jesus isn’t just a hobby or a side interest, but that devotion to Jesus is the consuming passion of the person’s life.” FULLY DEVOTED Timothy Peck
Consider the fact that we all NEED to HONESTLY THINK about the judgment to come – (Matthew 25:31-46 take a minute and look that passage up and read it). As Jesus judges us, will He say that we were devoted to Him? Faithful to Him? Or have we, like we do in so many things, redefined what “faithfulness” is, and it doesn’t look anything like what God says is being faithful?
Am I faithful? What does that mean? The Greek word suggests “to keep the faith, to be steady, RELIABLE, trustworthy and true.” Another person suggests that a faithful person is one who is “full of faith.” True. The best way to understand if a person is faithful is if they 1). Know what God wants and desires, and 2). DO IT. Knowing what to do, and actually doing it, is often two different things.
As we look at the “roll call of the faithful” in Hebrews 11, we see that men and women like Moses, Enoch, Noah and Abraham, Sarah and Rahab had enough faith in God that they obeyed what God told them to do. Even when it didn’t make sense, as when Abraham offered Isaac in Genesis 22. Or Noah building an ark for a flood that would come 120 years later.
Sometimes we equate the idea of faithfulness to a series of works that I accomplish. If I go to church a certain number of times, I will pay my debt to God, and I am faithful. Or if I give every week, I am faithful. Or if I sing songs without an instrument, I am faithful.
The Jews of Jeremiah’s day (see Jeremiah 7) were unfaithful but were very religious. They trusted in the fact that they went to the temple of God and worshipped, yet, at the same time (Ezekiel 8) they were worshipping false gods in the Temple itself. Listen to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 7:8-10, “Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before me in this house which is called by my name. and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’?”
“Faithfulness is not measured by how religious we are, but by how much we trust God and do his will.”
Do we take our relationship with Jesus and God seriously? It will show in our lives, in what we say and what we do.
Have we (I) allowed other things to get in my way of my service to Jesus? Do I think that my service to Jesus is just what I do on Sundays and maybe Wednesday evenings?
Have I been afraid of sharing the gospel with others because I might lose a friend or loved one? Have I been a “radical” when it comes to living the Christian life?
Solomon, in 1 Kings 8, dedicated the Temple to God when it was finished. In 1 Kings 8:22-53 we read his prayer asking God to listen to His people when they ask for his forgiveness. Then, in 1 Kings 8:54-61 Solomon stresses to the people what would be necessary for them to remain faithful to God! Notice these emphases in 1 Kings 8:57-58, and again in 61, “May the Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us nor forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to himself to walk in ALL his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers . . . Let your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes and keep his commands, as it is this day.”
Faithfulness and devotion is a matter of the heart!
All of the song books that have been replaced were shipped to Lewisville, TX Church of Christ to be shipped to the Philippines. There are over 300 Churches of Christ there which have no song books.