It’s important to understand that any truth or good virtue can be mingled and twisted by our selfish tendencies. One of those good things we can distort is what it means to be faithful. We know we should be faithful, but we also want to live comfortably. How can those conflicting desire be solved? Mix the two where Scripture separates them. Begin to view faithfulness as consistent mediocrity.
It’s an easy pitfall. Just find a sweet spot where there is both little effort and not too much guilt, then hit cruise control.
It’s like the athlete who sits on the bench yet has no urge to make it to the field. With little or no responsibility placed upon him to improve and make a meaningful impact on the team, he’ll sit there the whole season. The boy who was once eager to improve and become the best player he could be is now content to simply be on the team. After all, that’s his calling.
How many laborers never yield a harvest because they’ve determined their calling in life is to cheer everyone else on? Here are a few thoughts behind why this may be the case for so many followers of Christ.
We’re not following Christ.
It had to be said. The calling of every Christian is to go into the world just as Christ was sent into the world (John 17:18). With the same self-denial, the same submission to the Father, the same compassion and urgency to reach to lost, the disciples are called to go. Look at Paul. The last thing he was was stagnant. In the midst of Paul’s radical, gospel-centered life, he says that we should be imitators of him just as he was an imitator of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). And even though I Corinthians is talking about personal liberty, I think the point still applies. Just look at Hebrews 6:11-12.
“And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Never would our Savior be characterized as sluggish. Go just as Christ went. He is praying right now that you would.
We’ve misunderstood faithfulness.
In one sense, faithfulness means to keep doing what you’re doing, but there’s another sense where that is terribly misapplied to the Christian life. Sure, faithfulness requires a grounded-ness in God’s word and His love, but the more established you are in Christ, the more eager and active you become. Paul, who at one moment says to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast” (Col. 1:23), also says that he is toiling and struggling with all his energy that Christ is powerfully working in him (Col. 1:29). Don’t think that being grounded means you’ve moved passed the need to grow. The only one who will be grounded in the love of Christ is the one who is constantly growing in that love. In other words, stable faith is not static; it’s always increasing.
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4)
We’re not gripped by God’s glory.
Christianity isn’t a spectator sport. You can love college football to death yet never touch the field, but that’s not how Christianity works. You can’t cheer for God’s glory without participating in the mission.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Those that are overwhelmed and captured by the glory of God are inevitably and radically changed by it. A stale Christian life can only come from a dry desire for God’s glory.
Those who are eager to go into the world as Christ did all share in the same motivation. Jesus was driven to the cross by the glory of His Father (John 12:27-28), and that same glory drives his disciples to daily deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow in His footsteps (Matt. 16:24). Nothing is too radical for a life consumed with the glory of God.
Don’t settle for sluggish. You’re called to enjoy and extend the incredible glory of Christ! Strive for that. It’ll mean total denial of self and a radical pursuit of God’s glory, but that’s what true faithfulness looks like.