It may be telling my age, but when I was young we had everyday clothes and we had “Sunday Clothes”. We wore our best when we went to the worship services, but as soon as we got home, we took those clothes off and put on something we could play in without worrying about getting them dirty or torn. It seems that there are many who claim to be Christians whose Christianity is somewhat like those clothes of yesteryear. They wear their Christianity on Sunday and then put is aside for the next six days. However, it is a fact that true Christianity is not a one day a week religion. It is a twenty-four hour a day, seven days to the week and fifty-two weeks to the year religion. There is not even a summer vacation during which you set aside your Christianity. There are no annual leave days nor any sabbaticals. It is an every day religion.
True Christianity is not a spectator sport. It is not something that one sits back and enjoys watching someone else play the game for their entertainment. Though many practice it this way, it is not a part time job that one just dabbles in during their spare time. It is more a full time job that requires dedication and commitment. The apostle Paul stated, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58). The word “conversation” is often used in instruction to Christians. The word refers to a whole manner of life. Paul pointed to a complete change in this manner of life upon becoming a Christian. He wrote, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” Eph. 4:22-24). Peter wrote, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (I Pet. 1:15).
To become a Christian or to not become one is a matter of choice given to the individual. Physical Israel was made up of those who were born into the family of Israel. They did not decide to become Jews, they were born Jews and they remained Jews until they died. Christianity, which is spiritual Israel is made up of spiritual Jews. Paul wrote, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:28-29). One is not physically born a Christian, but one must instead be born again in order to become a child of God. Jesus said, “…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5). He stresses the distinction between a physical birth and the spiritual birth that is needed in order to become a Christian. He said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). It is one’s choice to be born again or to not be born again, but once the decision is made and one has become a Christian, they are a Christian every hour of every day of the rest of their life.
However, just as not all physical Jews, though they were Jews, were faithful to God, not all Christians, though they are Christians, are faithful Christians. This brings us back to our beginning thought. True Christianity requires daily dedication and application of the instructions of God for His children. There is no place in Christianity for slothfulness and laziness. In the parable of the one talent man (Matt. 25:14-30), this point is clearly brought out. The one talent man was not condemned for anything that he did, he was condemned for that which he did not do. He did nothing! When the Lord addressed him He said, “Thou wicked and slothful servant…” (Matt. 25:26) and commanded that he be cast into outer darkness (Matt. 25:30). God expects His children to be actively involved in the life of a Christian. In the letters to the seven churches of Asia, in the Lord’s letter to the church of the Laodiceans, He stated, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16). Indeed, Christianity is an all day, every day religion.
It just might be that the need for such a reminder as this is that a lack of realization of the seriousness of the matter is prevalent among us. Paul told the Romans, “…knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11). We live in a time of busy, busy, busy, but let us not forget just what is the most important thing with which we are to be busy. It is our eternal soul that is at stake. “…What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). (Send any questions or comments to: [email protected])
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.