Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. –C. S. Lewis
How important is the Christian faith? Listen to the Lord Jesus in just two of hundreds of similar statements from Him:
–“I tell you, no. But unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3,5)
–“Unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).
The faith of the Lord Jesus Christ is a life or death proposition.
Of the 100,000 excellent things C. S. Lewis said in his writings, and of the hundreds of memorable quotations we pass along from this brilliant British brother, perhaps nothing is of more lasting significance or greater benefit than the way he sharpened the line between faith and unbelief, between weak allegiance to Jesus and the real thing.
“(People say) ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Mr. Lewis would be amazed and more than a little disgusted by the lukewarmness of modern Christianity.
We live in a world that wants to believe in Jesus “somewhat” and make the Christian faith moderately important. The typical church member in our day tries to relegate his/her faith into the moderately important area of life where Jesus is some but not all, a helper but not Lord, Savior but not Omnipotent God. Jesus matters to them, just not supremely. To them, the gospel message is true, but not exclusively. Its promises are good but primarily as pertaining to death and beyond.
Many church members subscribe to the philosophy of the unbelieving world that concedes something may be true for you, but not for them. As though Truth played that little game.
Listen to a “typical” church member on any given Sunday….
–“I believe in Jesus personally, but religion is a personal preference and I would not want to force my convictions on anyone else.”
–“Me, I’m opposed to abortion and same sex marriages, but if the Supreme Court says these are right, then that’s how it’s going to be, right?”
–“I believe in Jesus, but I don’t take it to extremes.”
–“I’m a Christian, but not a Bible-thumper.”
Heard any of those?
Such believers–if indeed believers they are–end up turning people away from Jesus Christ rather than attracting them to Him.
Outsiders conclude that if Jesus’ followers take these things lightly and half-heartedly, they must not be very important.
If the Christian faith is only “moderately important,” then everything is downhill from then on: one’s day-to-day behavior will be unaffected by their relationship with Jesus, their worship will be spasmodic (“I’ll go to church when it’s convenient”), one’s Bible-reading non-existent, and their giving hardly noticeable.
Sound familiar? I fear we’ve just described a huge segment of modern Christianity. God help us.
Those “moderately affected” believers will not be sharing their faith in Christ since a) they know so little worth sharing and b) they are fairly well convinced that everyone is going to Heaven regardless of what they do or believe. Therefore, witnessing is only for those “who have the gift.”
Moderately dedicated believers expect the church to teach their children about the Christian faith and the scriptures. Their home will be indistinguishable from those of every heathen family in town.
Moderately changed church members will choose their church based on what they get out of it. Asking the Lord where He wants them to worship, what He would have them do, what is His will, never enters their mind.
As for their prayer life, a quick little memorized speech here and there is about all Heaven will hear from the moderate believer.
This is not a new phenomenon.
The prophets and preachers of old dealt with this lukewarmness among God’s people. Some instances come to mind….
–“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1). In the 8th century B.C., the pagan nation of Assyria was bearing down on Israel while its citizens were taking it easy. In 722 B.C., the nation of Israel (the northern kingdom) went out of business.
–“Our soul is greatly filled with the scoffing of those who are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud” (Psalm 123:4). This is what those who are “at ease” do best: they scoff at the people who are warning and working and trying to rally the troops.
–“You also say, ‘My, how tiresome (is this business of worship and offering-bringing)! And you disdainfully sniff at it…. You bring what was taken by robbery, and what is lame and sick. That’s how you bring offerings. Should I receive that from your hand?” (Malachi 1:13).
–To the tepid church at Laodicaea, the risen and ascended Christ said, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked….be zealous therefore and repent.” (Revelation 3:15-19)
Imagine being wretched and miserable, and not knowing it.
It’s safe to say those whose Christian faith is moderately important simply do not know. They do not know the truth of Jesus Christ, the truth of His Word, and the facts about their situation.
This disgusts the Lord.
Jesus told the Laodicaeans He would “spew you out of my mouth.” That’s about as clear as it’s possible to get. Their weak, flimsy “moderate” religion was sickening to Him.
Get in or get out. That counsel is found with Joshua (Joshua 24:15), with Elijah on Mt. Carmel in I Kings 18:21, and with most of the sermons of our Lord Jesus. “Choose you this day.”
Let us not try the impossible task of camping out on moderate ground where nothing is certain and no one is sure of anything.