Life can be very, very good. Set aside the long lines at the drive-thru, the disturbing fact that the local ice cream shop closes at 8:00 PM, and the high price of gasoline, and you have to admit that we have it pretty good! Our lifespans are well into the eighties, there are always jobs to be had, it has been generations since we had to go to war, and we can still choose where we worship.
But still, there is a very disturbing problem in many churches.
The Problem of Sellouts
There seems to be fewer sold-out Christians, and an increasing number of sellouts.
Sellouts are those that love Jesus, own a Bible or two, identify with a church, but do not show evidence of a transformed life. They claim to follow Christ-and genuinely believe the Gospel is factual-but their enthusiasm to actually follow Jesus ebbs more than it flows. The signs are obvious:
- They are willing to give money to their churches, so long as it does not affect their standard of living.
- They are willing to attend their churches, until some other activity-usually athletic or leisurely in nature-takes them to their other place of worship (aka: the rink, the ball field, the beach, etc.).
- They are willing to observe and even appreciate those that serve them, but are far more satisfied watching than serving in ministry.
- They hold their Bible in high regard but read more emails in a given day than Bible verses.
- They hope that their children will grow up to be passionate about the Lord but rarely challenge them to serve in the church, live sacrificially, or shun friendship with the world (Jam. 4:4).
We all have weaknesses, and taken individually these signs might not be cause for alarm, but taken collectively they are symptomatic of a generation of Christians who have bought into a mediocre form of discipleship. Comfort and effortlessness have replaced suffering and sacrifice. Loyalty to Christ and his bride have been replaced with dedication to vocation, vacation and moral vacillation.
Our Lord taught us: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24) By this we learn that the way of the Christian is one of suffering, sacrifice and surrender to the will of the Father. This does not mean that we must suffer every moment of every day or that our lives will be ever bleak and painful. But if we enjoy a form of Christianity where suffering, sacrifice and surrender are rare, then we are practicing a form of Christianity foreign to Jesus.
Who is responsible?
We could blame the church for this slippage; and, to be sure, church leaders do bear some blame. But Jesus addresses each of us in his call to follow – “If anyone would come after me” – and so individually we must choose to heed his call. Instead of selling out to temporal things, and without consideration for what others are or are not doing, each must choose daily who you will serve (Josh. 24:15).
If one desires to live a sold-out life rather than that of a sellout, they must form the habit of asking themselves probing questions like:
- Am I actively seeking the will of the Lord for my life as revealed in his Word?
- Am I offering my body as a living sacrifice by adopting God’s desires?
- Am I spending money on fruit-bearing ministry in a truly sacrificial way?
- Am I investing my time in a disciple-making, God-glorifying church?
- Am I leading my family and loved ones toward Jesus?
- Am I evidencing holiness in my decisions and lifestyle choices?
And then they must act!
Believers have already been equipped for sold-out followership through the empowering Word of God, the edifying people of God, and the encouraging Spirit of God. So go for it! Embrace a sold-out life so that in all things God might be glorified through you!