Last week I introduced Sunday’s sermon on 1st Corinthians 15:58 by asking what we do if we want to serve God more, but our lives are so busy. Out of that question comes another one: isn’t okay to just believe in Jesus, or do we need to be radicals?
1st Corinthians 15:58 closes out a long discussion Paul is having about the resurrection. Because the resurrection is true, he says, it is a world-changing event that begs us to give our lives in response. The problem is that we haven’t often heard what it means to be a disciple. Instead we have bought in to the idea of levels of commitment to God, as I mentioned before.
An article was published recently that describes in more detail how Christians in our country have looked at commitment to Jesus, and it is scary. The author, Ed Stetzer, says that Christians in our country can be divided nearly evenly into three groups, each making up about 25% of our nation’s population. As you hear me describe Stetzer’s three groups, I want you to think about which one you are in.
First, he says there are “Cultural Christians, [who] are simply those who, when asked, say they are a Christian rather than say they are an atheist or Jewish. They are “Christian” for no other reason than they are from America and don’t consider themselves something else.” Does that describe you? Not sure? Here’s the next group.
He calls them “Congregational Christian[s]. This person generally does not really have a deep commitment, but they will consider themselves as Christians because they have some loose connection to a church—through a family member, maybe an infant baptism, or some holiday attendance.” How about that group? Does describe you? Maybe you are in the…
The final group he calls “Convictional Christians, [and they] are those people who self-identify as Christian who orient their life around their faith in Christ. This includes a wide range of what Christian is—not just evangelicals, for example. It means someone says they are a Christian and it is meaningful to them.”
If we apply these three designations to what Paul has just taught us in 1st Corinthians, Paul is saying that we need to be last group, Convictional Christians. Stetzer goes on to explain that the first two groups are what he calls nominal Christians, meaning they are Christians in name only. As we have been talking about for the last few weeks, people in those first two groups, the Cultural or Congregational Christians might have a semblance of belief in the content of the Gospel, but they do not have the commitment.
Stetzer predicts that “The nominals will increasingly become nones…They’re simply calling themselves Christians because that’s who they consider themselves to be, not because of any life change or ongoing commitment. Those types of Christians, about half of the population now, will become a minority in a few decades.”
So what we do about this? We do exactly what Paul says. If you feel you are in Group 1 or 2, Paul is saying that we need to be in Group 3, the group that stands firm, lets nothing move you, in your belief and commitment to the resurrection and mission of Jesus. He says that we should always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord.
So what will that look like this afternoon, tomorrow at work, in the cafeteria of your school, or as you rake your leaves or watch TV?
Here are some practical steps that another writer suggests.
In a busy, busy world, it is possible to “always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord.” So what does that mean for you?