This morning I was reading about the Church in Costa Rica. The good news is that the Costa Rican people seem to be highly effective at evangelizing the lost. The bad news is that people are leaving the Church and even abandoning their faith at an equal rate as those who are being won to Christ. The problem is perceived to be that they (and I recognize this is a sweeping generalization and that many ministries are doing a great work there) lack the resources and training to nurture and disciple the new converts. Many of those coming to Christ in Costa Rica are like the seed that falls on shallow and rocky ground (Matthew 13:20-21). When the heat comes, they wither and fade away.
I could not help but find a parallel to the Church in North America today. We have great outreach programs to bring people into our churches, and great activities to keep them engaged once they come in. However, we (as a whole) do little to deepen the roots of their faith. My observation is that most church going people are content to listen to the sermon on Sunday morning and expect all growth to come from that. I have to tell you, if that’s how you think it works, you are sadly mistaken. The morning sermon should be the catalyst to spur us into further study, and application of that study, throughout the week. Listening to someone speak for thirty minutes will not change your life. However, applying what you have heard can definitely set you on a whole new course.
It is the responsibility of the pastor and church leaders to instruct the congregations in the ways of the Word. Beyond that, it is the responsibility of each of us to take that teaching into the world, to turn the words into actions. This is the call for each of us who would follow Christ. Jesus didn’t say that if we wished to follow Him then we need only listen to Him speak. No, if we legitimately love him, we will do the things He told us to do (John 14:12-17). When situations arise, such as the state of the Church in Costa Rica, we tend to try and find fault with the Church leaders. While certainly the leaders must shoulder some of this burden, the truth is that it is up to each individual to decide what they will do with Jesus Christ.
As I have stated in previous articles, Christianity is not a spectator sport. If you are simply a fan of Christianity, you are at the wrong game! Followers of Christ are not merely fans, they are engaged; they are in the midst of things, mixing it up. We are called to action, to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). This is our mission and to those of us who have accepted it, there is nothing more exciting in life. Don’t come to Christianity expecting a peaceful life full of happiness and treasure. That’s not what’s in the program. Come to Christ because you love Him so much that you are willing to suffer and die for Him; come to Him with empty hands and with the gratitude of knowing what He has done for you. If you come for any other reason or with any other expectation, you will be disappointed and you will fall away.
God won’t accept an offering that is not fully devoted to Him (Genesis 4:3-5; Isaiah 58:5-8). He doesn’t want your leftovers or your afterthoughts. He came to die for your heart and your soul and He demands every last ounce of your being. As long as we have breath, it is our duty and our honor to breathe for Him. As we inhale His grace, we exhale His love and mercy to those around us. If we fall away from our allegiance to Jesus, we need look no further than ourselves when placing blame. Yes, we need strong leaders who will challenge the people to repent and devote themselves to Christ, and yes we need to supply resources that will encourage and help others grow in their walk. But at the end of the day, the buck stops with each of us, and it is we who must decide what we will do with the call of Christ.
Has your walk stagnated and drifted off course? Do you truly love and wish to follow Jesus? Nothing in this world can stop you from serving Him today. If you will humble yourself and seek only to do His will, you will find favor in the eyes of God. Each day, even this day, we must choose whether or not we will obey and trust the Creator of the universe and the Savior of our souls. No one else can do this for us; only we can decide. I don’t want to live a life of lip service devotion and dwell in mediocrity. I want to serve with all that is within me until this life is taken from me. I want to live in service and surrender to my king. Take responsibility for your own choices today and leave the rest to Jesus. If you’re determined to give everything to Him, I encourage you to leave a comment below and boldly state that you are ready and you are willing. Join me in pursuing Christ with all that you have; the journey leads to a life that is life beyond imagination.