Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.
If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream.
Or, to use another metaphor more familiar to city people, we are on a never-ending downward escalator. In order to grow, we have to turn around and sprint up the escalator, putting up with perturbed looks from everyone else who is gradually moving downward.
I believe that much of the American churchgoing population, while not specifically swimming downstream, is slowly floating away from Christ. It isn’t a conscious choice, but it is nonetheless happening because little in their lives propels them toward Christ.
Perhaps it sounds as though I believe you have to work your way to Jesus. I don’t. I fully believe that we are saved by grace, through faith, by the gift of God, and that true faith manifests itself through our actions. As James writes, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (2:17). The lives of many people who call themselves “Christian” in America lack manifestations of a vital and active faith.
And this, to be perfectly honest, frightens me. It keeps me up at night. It causes me to pray desperately and fervently for my congregation, for the groups of people I speak to, and for the church as a whole.
Henri Nouwen writes about this in his book With Open Hands: “It is hard to bear with people who stand still along the way, lose heart, and seek their happiness in little pleasures which they cling to…. You feel sad about all that self-indulgence and self-satisfaction, for you know with an indestructible certainty that something greater is coming…”
Or, as Luke 9:25 says, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
— Francis Chan // Crazy Love