There's Nothing Casual About Obedience

Recently I served at a Vacation Bible School in a residential community of refugees.

I absolutely prefer the comforts of air-conditioning to the August heat. Gnats were especially persistent, and I constantly warded them off with my hands. While walking hand in hand with an adorable African girl, she explained the gnats liked me because I was peach!

As I soldiered on in the heat with my class of kindergarteners, a young girl said, “You don’t look like an outdoorsy kind of woman.” Well, she had me there!

Being made aware of my inconsistencies reminded me of the story where Joshua calls out the Israelites. After God brought them out of the wilderness and into Canaan, Joshua charged them to fear God by serving him in sincerity and forsaking their idols. The people quickly agreed. But Joshua said, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God” (Josh. 24:19).

Joshua’s response seems harsh, but he knew words did not equal obedience. He saw through the Israelites’ casual approach to God’s commands. He knew their easy agreement to his charge didn’t mean they would forsake their idols and obey God. Their casual manner before the Lord betrayed them.

We can become ensnared by the same laid-back approach to God and his ways. Words are easy and require little of us. But zeal and devotion aren’t cheap. The cost of following Christ is our all.

Are you all in?

THE PROOF OF CASUAL LIVES

How do you know if you’re all in or if you’re just casually interested in God? People who are casual about God are complacent, disengaged, and indifferent towards his kingdom.

Words are easy and require little of us. But zeal and devotion aren’t cheap.

A casual person says, “Jesus is Lord,” but lives like they occupy the throne. A casual woman admits sexual immorality is a sin (1 Cor. 6:18) while secretly daydreaming about her coworker. Men who are casual about God use the same hand which bears a red X to advocate for the END IT Movement (which opposes slavery and sex trafficking) to drag their mouse over pornographic images when no one is looking.

A casual person knows they are to love their neighbor (Mark 12:31) but will only do so when convenient. The casual churchgoer knows God’s command to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19) and assumes that means giving a little money to their local church. Casual parents know they’re supposed to teach their children God’s Word and believe they do that by sending them to Sunday School or youth group.

Casualness before the Lord is evidenced by knowing what the Bible says but caring little about it. Continued rebellion is the proof of our casualness.

THE DANGERS OF CASUAL LIVING

The danger in being casual about God and his kingdom is that we deceive ourselves into thinking we’re right with God when we’re not. We fool ourselves into believing we can have Jesus and our sin, too. We think that because we prayed a prayer and walked down an aisle, we’re good—no need to take God and his Word too seriously.

One of the most haunting verses in the Scriptures is Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Casualness before the Lord is evidenced by knowing what the Bible says but caring little about it.

There is no use in calling him Lord if we don’t treat him like it. Luke 6:46 says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” A casual approach to his commands will not serve us well before his throne.

Casual living before God is also dangerous because it interferes with the spread of God’s glory on Earth. Paul warned the early church: “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you (Rom. 2:24).”

Likewise, our witness is damaged when our words and actions contradict God’s. We can cause others to curse his good name because we aren’t representing him rightly in our lives.

GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT GOD

God is holy and awesome. He is the great I Am. His power and worthiness should inspire humility and holy fear. Any casualness towards him is a direct affront to his holiness. Because God is holy, his followers are pursuers of holiness, zealously repenting of sin.

God gives us the grace to obey his Word for the sake of his name among the nations (Rom. 1:5). If we are serious about God, we will be serious about doing what he says. We will be James 1:22 kind of people—doers of the Word.

There is no use in calling him Lord if we don’t treat him like it.

How will the world ever take God seriously if we don’t? Is our message that Christians are people who go to a weekly church service, give a little money, stay away from disgraceful behaviors, vote Republican, and bring meals to people who have been in the hospital? Is this it? Is there more to it?

The real question is: Shouldn’t we want there to be more?

If the above is what our unbelieving friends think of Christianity, our witness is, at best, ineffective. At worst, it’s heretical.

JESUS WENT ALL IN. WILL YOU?

Our Father is so serious about us that he sent his only Son to live the life we could not live and die the death we should have died. Jesus rose from the grave, forever conquering the power of sin and death over us. He held back nothing. He gave his all.

Ours is an all-in kind of faith. Love for our Father prohibits casual worship. We boldly proclaim our rally cry, “We are all in with Christ!”

We’re serious about our king. Zealous for him—not slothful in zeal, but fervent in spirit. We’re all in with him because he’s all in for us. We’re all in so others might see and know his great glory. We’re all in because we don’t know any other way to be.

Evaluate the consistency of your words and actions. Be all in as you serve God in sincerity and forsake your idols.


Christy Britton is a wife and mom to four boys. She writes Bible study curriculum for Docent Research Group and serves as the Discipleship Classes Coordinator for Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C. She is an orphan advocate with 127 Worldwide and contributes administratively to bring pastor training opportunities to Africa for Acts 29. You can follow her on Twitter.