When it comes to my life I am an unabashed thrill seeker. I still remember the days I used to fearlessly jump off the roof of our house to the hard ground beneath, fling myself off of the biggest jumps while snowboarding, fly down the rockiest mountain on my bike with reckless abandon, or backflip 50+ feet off cliffs into icy cold water without a second thought. This thrill seeking has cost me the breakage of numerous bones and who knows how many concussions. As I get older I remember the falls, broken bones, and my growing responsibility. This has caused me to become a bit more conservative in following after my thrill seeking pursuits. While this may be a good thing when concerning the longevity and quality of my life I have also seen this conservative nature creep its way into my spiritual life. God calls me and I am too conservative to take that step of faith. I question God’s call and His provision when I ought to passionately jump into His work. I believe this conservative response to God’s call is a problem especially in the realm of Conservative Christianity.
Condemnation of the Conservatives
Jesus confronted the hypocritical, hyper conservative Pharisees on many occasions. He condemned them for majoring on the insignificant and ignoring the important matters. Matthew 23:23 ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” There was nothing wrong with the Pharisees tithing carefully, but their conservative attitude towards tithing had made them loose their passion for God. They got so caught up with the nitty-gritty of the law that they had missed the passion of following the Savior who was standing right before them.
Ok, before you get your hackles raised too much let me explain the title of this blog. I’m not changing doctrinal positions on you. I’m trying to point out a pitfall of conservative Christianity. As conservatives we are guilty of being conservative about everything and many times ignoring the call to be passionate about our Master, Jesus. We are conservative in our music, but also about our involvement in our praise and worship. We are conservative in our finances, but also in our giving. We are conservative in raising our families, but also in our service with our family. We are conservative as we choose our church home, but also as we commit to service in our church. We are conservative in our dress, but also in our exposure to the lost who need Christ. We are conservative in our doctrine, but also in our evangelism efforts. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with being conservative. In fact I believe it is only through conservative Christianity that we will truly see God impact our church, town, country, and world. But there is a problem with our conservative nature. It tends to spread into our entire lives. There are some things that we should not do conservatively. Some places in our Christian lives where we should throw caution to the wind and go all out for Jesus.
Jesus calls us to a life of reckless abandonment. He sent the rich young ruler away sorrowful because he was not willing to abandon all for Him. Jesus told would-be followers, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26).” Quite harsh words to say to potential volunteers, He reminded them of their need to abandon all to follow Him. Luke tells of three people who came to Jesus as He was walking and volunteered to follow Him. The first man was a scribe. He said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus responded, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Jesus invited another person to follow Him and the man replied, “Let me go and burry my father, first.” Jesus told him, “Let the dead burry their own dead, but as for you, go proclaim the kingdom of God.” One more volunteer called out, “I will follow you Lord but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus’ answer must have been tough to bear, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. Jesus told them that they needed to be willing to give up their refuge, riches, and even their relationships to follow Him (Luke 9:57-62). He invited them into a life of reckless abandonment for His cause. Not a conservative life in which everything is in order before they follow.
Where is the passion of conservatives?
When Jesus called his disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John, He said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Do you know what their response was? Simon and Andrew abandoned their nets (the tools of their livelihood) and followed Him immediately. James and John immediately, “left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed Him.” They recklessly abandoned their livelihood and family to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20). That’s not conservative.
So how do conservative Christians fall into this trap? I believe that we are conservative about everything. I don’t mean that we should loosen up our biblical doctrine for the sake of unrestrained passion. Removing ourselves from conservative doctrine also removes us from following our Master. Don’t allow this conservative nature to infiltrate the way we follow Jesus. We must follow Jesus and obey His call with passionate reckless abandon. I have been cliff jumping a number of times and I have seen that the longer a person stands at the top of the cliff instead of leaping into the water below the harder the leap becomes and more likely it is that they won’t jump in at all. Just jump into service and leave the rest up to God.
We need people who are willing to passionately get involved in ministry. Don’t go in with a conservative attitude. We need people who are passionate about their worship for God. Don’t sing in church to fill time before the preaching, worship God. There is nothing wrong with emotion or passion when we worship. Passionately get involved in our worship service through allowing the message of the song to touch your heart, don’t just recite the words. Passionately get involved in ministry to our children through nursery, Sunday School, Truth Trackers, and children’s church. Passionately volunteer to help out with out sound and PowerPoint presentations. Passionately involve yourself with other believers at church. Tell them what God is doing in your heart. Plan to spend time with them outside of church services. Build relationships with them. Passionately visit the shut-ins in our church. Passionately involve your entire family in the service to the church. Passionately open your home to one of the thousands of foster kids stuck in our system. Passionately invite your friends and neighbors to church. Passionately help out those who are in need. Passionately support missions. Passionately get involved in our Tuesday night growth group beginning in February. Passionately pray for the needs of the church. Passionately give to the financial needs of our church. Passionately thank those who serve in our church. Passionately praise God for His work among us. Passionately abandon your conservative response to the call of God. Quit thinking about it and just jump in!
How do conservatives change?
Stop dreaming about what a passionate Christian life would look like and start living it. Let’s be passionately conservative as we follow Christ. When When Jesus calls you to take a step of faith that you fear, don’t argue with Him, don’t make excuses. passionately jump in and watch God passionately provide your need, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).” We wonder why we don’t see the amazing blessings that God promises at times. I believe the answer is found in Luke 6:38 “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” If we follow Christ conservatively we will find that His blessing and work among us is conservative. What would happen if we followed Him passionately? I believe that only time will tell. As conservative Christians, remain conservative where it is important, recklessly abandon the idea of conservatively following, and passionately follow our Master, Jesus Christ.