I grew up in a family that heard about Jesus twice a year–Easter and Christmas Eve. The notion of being a good person was possibly enough.
I remember asking about faith and religion from time to time growing up. If I asked my dad about it, he’d sit me down for an hour (which seemed more like millenniums) with long scholarly descriptions of church history, and the history of world religions. I’d walk away wishing I hadn’t asked. If I asked my mom, she’d look sad and say we just don’t go to church anymore. It was obvious she had an emotional experience somewhere, and felt estranged from the church and from Christ.
Believe. Repent. Follow.
I knew my parents believed and converted at one point in their lives, but it stopped there. They didn’t follow, and to not follow is the same as neglecting. They bought into being a good person is enough.
First of all, the term good person is relative to the culture and times. Often what is acceptable changes with culture and time. For example, once upon a time concubines and multiple wives were socially acceptable, relative to setting.
Secondly, following means loving God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and loving others. This is more than being a good person, because the motivation behind it is fundamentally different. The motivation is not caused by fitting into societal norms, but rather from loving and following Christ. The thing is, they look the same to the human eye, so let God do the judging.
Scripture warns against just believing, but not repenting and following.
We believe in Christ’s miracles even though Christ doesn’t walk the earth the way he did physically 2000 years ago. However, in Matthew 11:24, the towns that knew Jesus’ miracles, but still did not repent were warned that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for them.
In Hebrews 2:1-4, we are warned to pay attention and follow:
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Listen. Respond. Apply.
Following Christ is being purposeful in listening, responding, and applying His word. Being purposeful will look different to different people, but for me, it’s managing my time better. It’s getting up earlier, turning off the computer and TV sooner, going to bed earlier. It’s pausing throughout the day to pray and listen. It’s responding with His guidance, and applying Him to all my decisions and interactions.
I need to be intentional about allowing Him to help me, strengthen me, and guide me. But all of that starts with listening.
How are you purposeful in listening, responding, and applying?
What cultural accepted norms are blinding us from His truths?
What can we do differently?
Much of this was written during Dave Abbatacola’s February 5th sermon, and this is my response to it.