I’ve come to a place in my faith where I realize that I’m not taking it seriously enough.
Have you ever had one of those moments? Where you realize something is vastly more important that you initially thought?
I’ve always known that my faith was important. I always knew it mattered, but I just assumed I’d hang out with Buddy Jesus and everything would be okay. I thought that to take myself seriously as a man was somehow separate from my faith. That I could be a Christian with or without being a serious man.
But I decided to take my faith more seriously. I decided that if I was going to build a tribe of men around me – as all men should – that my tribe should be composed of Godly and intelligent men. I decided that I should learn more classical doctrines of the faith. I engaged in my own catechism.
Then, being built up in this new knowledge and being imbued with a certain perspective, I took a quick read over 1st Corinthians. Chapter 6, verses 9 & 10 read:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Wow. There is a lot of stuff on that list that all of us do. And the Bible plainly says that if we do those things that we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul reiterates this point in Galatians chapter 5, verses 19 through 21:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Pretty heavy stuff. It dawns on me that Christians don’t do these sorts of things. If you’re truly saved, truly regenerate, and you have new life in Christ you should strive against these things. You are no longer dead in your flesh, but living in Christ! You should work and endeavor that you appear to be alive in Christ.
But try living that. Try making your faith an obvious and immutable part of your life.
I was listening to R.C. Sproul’s The Intimate Marriage the other day and he mentioned a quote from early Christian writings. I can’t remember who the quote was from, but it was a first or second century Christian who said that if people wanted to see what made us different as Christians, they just had to examine us.
Confident, the man invited a thorough and rigorous examination of his brothers and sister in the faith, knowing that there would not be found any of the things Paul lists above among them.
That is certainly not true today.
Christians make it hard to be Christ-like
Moreover, when you try to point out what the Bible says by simply quoting it, you are often shut down.
Take my personal Facebook for example. My Facebook feed is literally Calvinist memes and Bible verses. That’s it. I never tag anyone, I never call anyone out, and most of the time I’m posting things that I’m personally dealing with or struggling with.
My Facebook feed is truly a reflection of what I have going on in my head.
To date I’ve been blocked by a handful of people for literally just quoting the Bible. In context.
My posts routinely garner a sort of malicious incredulity from my “friends,” who simply can’t believe that I believe all of that… Bible stuff….
I’ve noticed several people who do the Facebook equivalent of “subtweeting” at me, where they don’t tag me in something but write a refutation of what I say and hope that I see it.
I’ve had several people message me and tell me that I’m way off base in my faith, that I’m wrong about everything, or that I’m being judgemental.
And what I find most interesting about all of this is that I’m not actually talking about anyone other than myself in 90% of my statuses. I’m not subtly referencing friends, I’m not tagging people or telling them they need to see some verse in the Bible. I will literally just post a Bible verse.
I read it, I thought it was interesting and fitting for our world today, and so I posted it, and BAM! I get a message about how judgemental and offensive I am.
It’s crazy to me because I’m simply pointing out what the Bible – what God Himself – says is righteous, and what God himself says is sinful. And these people think I’m judging them personally. Perhaps they should pause and consider why they recoil so at the confrontation of their sin?
How is it that two of my three most accepting friends that I have the most civil and engaging discourse with are unregenerate, unsaved men? How is it that I’m being scorned the most by my friends that profess Christ?
Living your faith is a very difficult thing to do. Living your faith publicly even more so. But living your faith in front of your friends, family, and people that know you is the hardest thing in the world.
The people that know you make it hardest.
I have been giving this some thought over the last few weeks and I think it’s the people that know you that make faith the hardest. These people have seen my swear, get drunk, and generally be an evil and terrible person.
These are the people who come to me and say, “Remy, you can’t tel me not to be a drunkard! We’ve been drunk together!” But these people didn’t see me three weeks ago when I dumped everything but the wine down the sink.
These people don’t see my daily struggle with trying to do as the Lord commands. They just see the command and say, “You fall short too!” and try to drag me down.
It makes my struggling and working out of my faith that much harder. These people have an image of me and it is not an image of me in Christ. They know how I can be when I’m sinful, and they like the sinful image of me for whatever reason, and are striving to keep me there.
They project shame on me, they try to tell me I’m being judgemental, they come at me with soft arguments against my doctrine. They desperately want me to not believe what I do.
The faith isn’t easy.
This isn’t an easy thing. It is a thing that your friends don’t want you to live out because then they have to. It is a thing the public doesn’t want you to live out. I have coworkers on Facebook who are gay, who know I’ve posted that homosexuality is immoral and unacceptable.
All it takes is one screenshot and I’ve lost my job. Why? Because I spoke the truth of God’s word?
The standard is high, the requirements are steep, and the consequences are dire. And yet so many of us shirk them and shrug them off because “God Loves Us All” or because “That’s the Old Testament”, or whatever other excuse we can muster.
We don’t realize exactly what is required of us. In America, especially, our Christianity isn’t based on the Word of God, but on our culture.
Take the Presbyterians, for example. They started out as a branch of reformation theology and Calvinism, a doctrine that espouses Sola Scriptura. Now, they openly defy their God and court their own destruction by having female and homosexual ministers and clergy, and by affirming that marriage can happen between the same sexes.
I’m worried that our failure to realize the hard truth about the Gospel – that it requires repentance and a turning away from your sin – will end up leading so many people merrily along the road straight to hell.
I know this focused a lot on me and my own struggle, but I hope you’ll find some comfort in it. I honestly was worried to even write it, but I know I have to. The faith is hard, it is difficult, and it requires I surrender myself daily to my God. But the struggle is richly rewarded in the end.
If you’re in the same place I am then be encouraged and hold fast. You will overcome, and what you currently suffer will only make you stronger. The saints will persevere.
If you’re considering going after your faith with tenacity, and giving God your life and all you have, then know that you will be giving up everything. You will lose more than you thought, it will cost more than you think, and the path will be narrow and hard to walk. But it is worth every moment.
I would rather offend 10,000 men than offend God.
I’ll leave you with this clip from Paul Washer.