Most of us will recognize that “A” is the correct version of Hebrews 10:24-25. And, sadly, most of us who have been in the church the last few years will recognize that we live and minister as if “B” were true. We have become so seeker-sensitive, so afraid of offending someone in this changing culture in which we live, that we shrink back from challenging people to live godly lives or to do anything more than attend a weekly service.
Think about it for a minute and see if it’s not true. We try to win people to Jesus by telling them that they can fit Him in with everything else that they are doing and they will have better lives because of it. We offer the best coffee and donuts, the most excellent worship music, the most entertaining speakers so that people will fit us into their busy schedules. Many churches have canceled midweek meetings so that people can have more “family time” (which actually means more time watching television).
Is it any wonder that the culture is changing our churches rather than our churches changing the culture? Instead of calling people to pick up their cross and follow Jesus, we offer them a consumer-driven Christ that will meet their every need. Instead of asking people to lay down their lives and let God reign in their hearts, we ask them to fit Him in between jobs and soccer practice. We make him a part of our agenda rather than letting Him set our agenda.
"We try to win people to Jesus by telling them that they can fit Him in with everything else that they are doing and they will have better lives because of it."
It’s time that we wake up from our slumber and challenge ourselves and others to be followers of Jesus like those in the New Testament. We need to live for Jesus 24/7, not just on Sunday morning. When a person truly gives their life to Jesus, it is a life-changing event. It literally changes their world as their new relationship with God changes their thinking, their values, their behavior, their circle of friends, and even how they spend their time and money.
Spending time with God and other believers becomes a priority, a vital part of their busy schedule that breathes life into everything else. Belonging to Christ and being a part of His body – connected to other believers – is life itself for a Christ-follower. If a Christian is too busy to be a part of a local church or to spend time with other Christians on a regular basis, then he or she is too busy. Hours on the job must be brought into line; sports or volunteer commitments have to be cut back; the television or computer needs to be turned off; we must do whatever it takes to make room for God and His people.
So don’t shrink back from spurring yourself and others on towards love and good deeds, even if it does go against our culture. And don’t give up the habit of meeting together with other Christians and being the church as often as you can. Get together with people daily so that you can encourage one another in the Lord and pray for one another and worship together. Join ministry teams and prayer groups and Bible studies. Be with other Christians several times a week. Serve the Lord with abandon, in whichever way He has gifted you and with whatever He has given you. Give your life to Him without holding back and encourage those in your church to do the same – to live for Him 24/7 rather than only on Sunday mornings – and you will stand strong in the Lord, full of joy, peace, hope, and confidence as you see the Day approaching.
Let’s Pray Together:Lord, I confess that I have been changed by the culture around me and at times have been half-hearted in my commitment to You and Your body. At times I hold back from spurring others on toward love and good deeds and I sometimes put boundaries around my life and schedule that are not from You. I fit You into my agenda instead of submitting my schedule to Your agenda for my life. I tell You that once a week is enough time to be with You and other Christians when you are calling me to be a follower 24/7. Help me to make time with You and other Christians a priority. Lead me to the right people to hang out with so that we can spur one another on to whole and healthy lives in You… (continue praying as you feel led)
What Others Are Saying: “Too often in my preaching I have tried to talk people into following Jesus. I wanted to make following him as appealing, comfortable, and convenient as possible. And I want to say that I am sorry….I hope that you will read this book and discover with me what it really means to follow Jesus." (Kyle Idleman in the prologue to his book Not a Fan -- Becoming A Completely Committed Follower of Jesus)
"As I contemplated this morning's devotional, it occurred to me that many of us are like the men in this quote from Winston Churchill: "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry on as if nothing had happened." Many of us, me included, have had moments in our lives when truth was revealed to us -- the majesty of Jesus, all that He has done for us, and all that He wants to do through us -- but we go back to life as usual and put Him and His will for our lives on the back burner, as if it were some kind of afterthought or side effect. We have to make Him the centerpiece of our lives and His will the forerunner in our decision-making processes. Living for Him, spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ, declaring the truth of Scripture and His will for our lives and for our churches -- these things must be the guidelines that keep us on the straight and narrow path. We can't give up the habit of meeting with our brothers and sisters in Christ nor can we stop shouting out words of encouragement and direction because we all need each other. Left alone, without anyone to spur us on towards love and good deeds, we tend to go along with crowd down the broad path of a wasted life." (Randy Brockett on the Discovering Biblical Church Facebook page) Related Resources: Not a Fan -- Becoming A Completely Committed Follower of Jesus -- challenging and life-changing book by Kyle Idleman NotAFan.com -- check out this site for videos of people's testimonies of how their lives were transformed when they became sold-out followers of Christ.