By Pastor Mark Combs
I know that you have all heard me ask the question, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”. I know you have heard this question, because it is a theme that I revisit periodically in sermons. I raise the question with you again, because I believe that it is an important question for us to consider, both in our lives as we present ourselves to the world, and also in how we deal with the people we encounter.
I know that I have been thinking about people being put on trial recently, and it has started me to wonder again about how we would answer this question. I also think this question is very important to us as we approach the coming of another school year and all the challenges that come with sports practice, band practice, choir practice, etc., and how we deal with the priority of do we go to practice or the game as opposed to going to worship.
It forces us to deal with the question of how our values, as God’s people, line up with the values of the rest of the world? In a sense, it is a rhetorical question, because we all known what goes on in the world around us. We watch the coaches and other leaders of groups in our communities that talk about values and then sacrifice those same values if it means winning. We lament the situation for our youth when they have practice, sporting events, musical performances and other things scheduled for Sunday mornings. We decry the situation, complaining about how awful things have become. It does, however, beg the question, how did things get this way?
The answer, I believe, is something we do not want to hear. The answer, I believe, is that it is our fault. We who call ourselves Christian have caved in and given up on what we say are our values. We haven’t stood up for what we say is important and we haven’t stood up for what we say we believe. We have let our concern over not offending anyone roll over what we say is important in our lives.
Unfortunately, I really fear that we have done all of this with the best of intentions. Parents, when considering the challenges of school life, have rationalized that their children will only have a limited time to participate in sports, band, choir, etc., while they will have all of their lives for church. We rationalize that it doesn’t hurt anyone to miss a Sunday here or there from going to church, but then it becomes easier and easier to take another Sunday off. The really bad part of this is that it shows an attitude to the world, and more significantly to our children, that when there is a choice of things that need to be done, the thing to skip is worship.
In the end, it becomes a question of priorities. We have to look at ourselves and see what our own personal core values are. We have to see if our real, applied values are the values we proclaim as Christians. Yes, there will be times where we are forced to decide. Yes, there are times we may have to rearrange our schedules to accomplish everything we say is important. The truth, though, is that the world sees who and what we are standing up for. Jesus gave us our mission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching what Jesus has commanded us. That is the work of standing up for the gospel.
It is usually an easy thing to stand up for what we believe is right, except our Christian beliefs. Jesus never promised us that living the life of a Christian would be easy. The challenge is to take up our cross and follow. It won’t earn us our way to heaven, Jesus has already taken care of that. Instead, if we make our words and our actions align, we are proclaiming to the world the good news of Jesus. Until next time.
See you in church,