I’m always harping on the need to have a real commitment to Jesus. Asking Jesus into your heart and believing that he died for your sins are not enough. You have to be a believer in Jesus, which means you listen to what he says, not just a believer in the fact that he died for our sins.
Today, though, I want to talk about not going overboard.
By overboard, I don’t mean that you are zealous for Christ, have a one-track mind, don’t want to talk about anything but Jesus, and are ready to race into the jungles of Africa and give your life for the Gospel. That’s not overboard. That’s commendable zeal.
By overboard, I mean that you sneer at people who tell you that they don’t feel called to the jungles of Africa and that they’d just like to raise their children as good, godly people who will contribute to the world around them.
We, and of course I’m including myself here, can complain about easy believism. There is definitely a false Gospel being preached in America, and it is being preached often, not rarely.
But the word “easy” is not a bad word:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Jesus, Matthew 11:30, ESV)
In what way is Jesus’ yoke easy?
I’ve heard that explained a lot of ways. My favorite, I think, is that the meaning is that the yoke—a device put upon oxen to help them pull a plow—is perfectly fitted for us. It’s not a one-size-fits-all that rubs our skin and give us blisters. It is comfortably made for each of us.
So some of us are called to trek the jungles of Africa. I’ve got friends packed into a 3-bedroom house in Kenya right now, living together with an African pastor for a couple months so that they can build the church and teach them to love one another and esteem each other equally.
Some of us are called to hospital rooms for chemotherapy like I’ve been going through for 4 weeks.
Others are called to go to work and live their life with kindness, friendliness, and the joy that comes from being in the presence of God.
Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (1 Thess. 4:11-12)
You will search the letters to the churches in vain for a similar command that says, “Aspire to be an excellent witness at work, finding opportunities to inject Gospel sayings into the lives of others.”
I love the fact that indigenous missionaries are traveling all over India, preaching the Gospel in villages and towns where the name of Jesus has never been heard.
In the USA, however, the name of Jesus has been defamed by idiots and charlatans who chant his name and throw out Scriptures to extort money from people or to get brownie points from God for their zealous evangelism while they are years away from having any real Christian stability in their lives.
It’s time for American Christians to shut up and live their faith.
There are exceptions. Thank God for some of these wonderful people who are in impoverished areas, helping people, and talking about Jesus while they’re doing it. Thank God for ministries like Teen Challenge.
Those ministries will be many times more effective if the rest of us, who are not doing those ministries, would follow the advice of 1 Thess. 4 and be quiet, keep our affairs in order, and give no opportunity for the Gospel to be maligned.
Okay, so I still sound like I’m ranting and raving, chewing people out.
My point is that all of us need to walk with Jesus. We need to be sold out for the Gospel, loving God, and walking by the Spirit.
But that doesn’t mean we’re called to evangelize the whole world. Many, probably most, Christians are simply called to enjoy fellowship with God and be an example by their steadfast, solid, and loving lives, rejecting worldly gain for the simple but huge joy of serving and loving others and giving thanks to God in all things.
That’s the right kind of easy believism.
Live in the grace you’ve been given. Go as far as God has called you. Know where God has called you. Be a good steward of his grace (1 Pet. 4:10-11), but don’t serve him out of a pressured guilt.
It’s okay for us, together, to shine a light that cannot be hidden simply because by our nature—which we have received from Christ when we were born again—we are zealous for good.
And it’s not just okay, but correct, to call that holiness.