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Casual or Passionate
Posted on April 19th, 2012

Requested excerpt from Monty's Easter Message

THE CASUAL CHRISTIAN VERSUS THE PASSIONATE CHRISTIAN
Monty Watson

To hear or read the full message, go to Media at www.churchatcanyoncreek.com, and look for the Easter message from April 8, 2012, entitled “Passion … Why We Should Live for Him.”

If it’s all true. We say we believe that Jesus loved us so much that He died for us. We say we believe that Jesus supernaturally rose the dead proving to be the Son of God. But too often there is a gap. There is a gap between what we profess to believe and how we really live. Of course, we’ll never be perfect. But the gap I’m talking is not a morality gap or a knowledge gap. The gap between what we believe and how we live is a passion gap. It’s the difference between being a casual Christian and a passionate Christian.

When I say casual Christian, I’m not talking about being a bad Christian. I’m talking about being an 80% Christian. You might say 80% is pretty good. If I do what God wants 8 out of 10 times, then I’m doing pretty good. No wife would feel that way if her husband was faithful only 80% of the time. An 80 is a C. It’s average, but it’s certainly not passionate.

Let me give you some examples.

When it comes to obedience, the casual Christian is committed to living a moral life, but not quite willing to do everything Jesus said. But the passionate Christian is so motivated by a love for Jesus that he’s willing to do anything Jesus asks; no matter how radical, no matter how counter-cultural, no matter how unpopular. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). The passionate Christian obeys Jesus because he loves Jesus.

When it comes to CHARACTER, the casual Christian is a good person, yet tends to blend in with the crowd and gauge his morality by comparing himself to others. And when it comes to sin, the casual Christian avoids big sins, but rationalizes little sins. The casual Christian fears getting caught, but the passionate Christian dreads the thought of offending his Father. The passionate Christian hates his sin and is quick to repent, just like David. “Have mercy on me, O God … Wash me clean from my guilt … I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:1-4, NLT).

When it comes to SEX, the casual Christian would never think about committing adultery. But the casual Christian tends to let down his guard and has a secret place in his mind for sexual sin. But the passionate Christian realizes the dangerous consequences of carelessness. The passionate Christian dreads the thought of hurting his family. The passionate Christian hears the warning of Scripture. “Flee immorality … do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you … You have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

When it comes to MONEY, the casual Christian “gives money to charity and to church as long as it does not impinge on his standard of living.” The casual Christian gives, but does not sacrifice. The casual Christian worries about having enough. But the passionate Christian is concerned about those who don’t have enough. The passionate Christian views money as a blessing from God that is to be used as a blessing to others and to advance God’s kingdom. The passionate Christian takes to heart what Jesus said. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, NAS).

When it comes to HEAVEN AND EARTH, the casual Christian believes in heaven and looks forward to seeing Jesus one day. But the casual Christian is often preoccupied with living the good life. Even his spirituality is a means to guaranteeing a comfortable and peaceful life. But the passionate Christian places sigificance on what has eternal value. He makes decisions in light of eternity. Paul said, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2, NAS). Eternity is the filter through which the passionate Christian assesses his values.

When it comes to THE BIBLE, the casual Christian believes the Bible is true, but is selective in how it shapes the way he lives. But the passionate Christian reads the Bible like it is food for the soul. The prophet Jeremiah said, “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight” (Jeremiah 15:16, NLT). For the passionate Christian, “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night”
(Psalm 1:2, NAS).

When it comes to CHURCH, the casual Christian often attends church expecting the best music, the best preaching, the best children’s program. For the casual Christian, church is often a consumer activity. But the passionate Christian knows that God is not impressed with our programs or our attendance. God wants our hearts. David realized, “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (Psalm 51:16-17, NLT). God wants our hearts.

When it comes to WORSHIP, the casual Christian loves to sing songs about God, and sings loud when things are going well. But the passionate Christian worships God even when life is painful. After losing his family and his wealth, Job still worshipped God and said, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). The passionate Christian lives in awe of God and worships Him as the majestic Creator of the universe. David cried out, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place … O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:3, 9, NIV).

When it comes to KNOWING AND LOVING GOD, the casual Christian really does love God and knows a lot of good theology about God. But the passionate Christian moves beyond knowing a lot about God, about knowing God on paper, to experiencing an intimate, personal relationship with Him. The passionate Christian loves God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind (Matthew 22:37). For the passionate Christian, Jesus is the love of his life.

Again, when I say casual Christian, I’m not talking about being a bad Christian. I’m talking about being an 80% Christian. But again, an 80 is a C. It’s average, but it’s certainly not passionate. Jesus called it as being lukewarm. And here’s what He said about being lukewarm. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16, NIV). Casual Christianity makes Jesus sick to His stomach. It makes Him want to throw up. Casual Christianity is superficial. It’s looking the part. It’s going through the motions. But Jesus is not pleased with that. He wants our love, not our activity. There’s a new book out called Not A Fan. The author challenges Christians to be more than fans of Jesus, more than admirers of Him, and to be followers. To be passionate, radical, fully devoted followers of Jesus.

So, why are we so content with the casual, with being average, with being lukewarm?

The answer is in 2 Corinthians 5. Paul said, “For the love of Christ compels us … that we should no longer live for ourselves for Him.” When the “love of Christ” is no longer compelling, when the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is no longer compelling, when the miracle of the resurrection is no longer compelling, we become content with the casual, with being average, and with being lukewarm.

There’s no music we can play and there’s no locker room speech I can give that will change that. The only thing that will ever move us from being casual to being passionate is the love of Christ. “For the love of Christ compels us.” It’s looking up at the cross. It’s looking inside the empty tomb. It’s hearing the voice of Jesus and making up our minds to follow Him passionately, to obey Him passionately, to love Him passionately, and to live for Him passionately.


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