No More Casual Christianity.
The days of being able to be a casual follower of Jesus are coming to a close. What would it look like to be more deeply devoted to life with Jesus next year?
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A new year is approaching us quickly. If you're like many in our culture, this has you thinking about resolutions.
Maybe you want to eat less and exercise more.
Maybe you have a particular number of books you hope to read.
Maybe, like many Christians, you hope to read through the entire Bible in 2023.
The resolutions may vary, but many of us have aspirational goals for the new year.
Curiously, conversations around new year's resolutions tend to be contentious amongst many Christians, or at least the one's who seem to make being cantankerous a full time job. Regardless, a new year feels like a fresh start. We begin thinking about where we've been, where we are, and where we would like to see ourselves this time next year. That being said, you've probably seen the stats on new year's resolutions. In short, they aren't great. Of the 41% of people who set resolutions, only 9% have shown to follow through. Not the most motivating numbers, to say the least.
Regardless of what strikes me as being a silly debate and the abysmal numbers, I think heading into a new year with intention is a good thing. In Ephesians 5:15-16 the Apostle Paul writes, "Pay careful attention, then, to how you live - not as unwise people but as wise - making the most of the time, because the days are evil." Obviously, Paul is not commanding us to set new year's resolutions. He is calling us to live with intention. As a result, I'm praying about what is on God's heart for me in 2023 and I want to invite you to do the same.
As you prayerfully develop your plan for this next year (or your rule of life, to use the more monastic term), I want to invite you to consider your faith experience in the new year through a different lens:
The days of being able to be a casual follower of Jesus are coming to a close.
Here's what I mean by that: Christian faith has had such a place of prominence and privilege in the west, in particular, that it’s been very much possible to be a "casual Christian." In essence, we’ve been able to walk with God at our own leisure, like a hobby.
We’ve been able to gather for worship, or not at our leisure.
We've been able to pray, or not at our leisure.
We've been able to participate in community, or not, at our leisure.
Our faith has been able to express itself on our own terms.
Here's the sobering reality: Christian faith has lost that prominence and privilege in our culture. And while a large sum of confessing Christians mourn this decline, I think it’s healthy. Not because it’s good that a culture be anti-God, but because it invites a more genuine relationship with Him.
The only way forward into anything resembling a thriving faith, will necessarily demand a deeper degree of devotion to life with God together. So as you continue to pray about this new year, let me give you a helpful question to take to God:
What would it look like for me to be more deeply devoted to my relationship with Jesus in this new year?
That question isn't about hanging legalistic millstones around
your neck. It's about leaning into more freedom, healing, and abundant life. So call them resolutions, goals, or your super-duper growth plan. The name barely matters. It's the heart that will inform their effect. The days of being able to be a casual follower of Jesus will continue to decline in this new year. Let's embrace this reality as an invitation from Jesus to more deeply devote ourselves to His peace, hope and love next year.
As you sit with this question (and if you’re comfortable), I’d love to hear what you believe is on God’s heart for you in this new year? Are there any new practices you’ll experiment with? Are there old ways of thinking, or behaving you hope to leave behind? What will it look like to live more deeply devoted to Jesus in 2023? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.