In case you were unaware, I am engaged to be married. Who is the girl? Sydney Kate Grubb is the girl. And she is absolutely wonderful. Our relationship has been an interesting one thus far because we are actually not from the same home town. We didn’t go to the same college. When we are both “home,” we are two and a half hours apart. Now, this hasn’t been much of an issue for us. It hasn’t been ideal, but we (all due to Sydney Kate) have really made the distance dating thing work really well. As I write this, I have less than 7 months left of this distance until we become permanent roommates. And you are absolutely right— I’m so excited.
You know, seeing as SK and I are getting married, my priority should be to talk to her about 10 minutes every day. I think that’s really great and will help us grow closer together. I can send her a text in the morning to tell her hello. Right before I go to bed, I can send a single, “Goodnight!” and be done with it. Once a week, we can FaceTime for about 40 minutes. While she’s talking, I will zone out, and then I will get back to doing my thing all week. While I’m in my regular weekly routine, I will flirt with other girls and spend inordinate amounts of time doing things like playing Xbox, riding my bike, and watching YouTube videos. I think that is the best way to foster a relationship with m future wife.
Now, how absolutely stupid does all of that sound? It’s ridiculous. Why would I do that with the girl I claim to love and want to marry? I wouldn’t, unless I’m a senseless and abysmally foul human being.
So, why on earth do we treat God this way?
We are going through this long and undisclosed laundry list of the myths that exist in Christianity. I call them myths because they aren’t true. I want to address them because they permeate the very nature of many Christians’ lives and our own local churches. There are many things right under our noses that we do not realize are killing our witness as well as our walk with Christ. There are also many myths that are robbing some of us of true salvation. On this next installment, we tackle myth number 2: contentment with God being on the schedule.
Now, that crude example of how I could treat my fiancé like garbage was a little rudimentary. But the point I was making with those extreme cases is that my entire philosophy was just to make Sydney Kate a part of my schedule. As long as she could get a few minutes each day of my time, that was fine with me. Now, 1 is a greater number than 0. So, spending at least some time investing in Sydney Kate is better than spending no time. However, it is completely asinine and ridiculous to assume that we would have any type of relationship if I only talked to her for about 2 hours out of the whole week. Better yet, if I were to supplement all of the other hours away from her with other girls and activities, that’s the very opposite definition of love. If I want to grow my relationship with SK and show her that I love her and enjoy her, I need to devote time and resources to her. That’s the point.
The situation for many people calling themselves Christians is that we treat our Christians commitments like a terrible boyfriend. According to Pew Research, 43% of US adults identify as protestant (that includes you, Baptists). Only 45% of all religious people— including but not limited to Christianity— attend a service of their faith once a month or more. Slightly more than 50% of self-identifying Christians in the US attend a church service “regularly,” meaning twice a month or more. Evangelical protestants claim by survey that 63% of them read scriptures personally “at least once a week.” This would be a more encouraging number, but let’s be totally real. Think about your own self. Would you count a church service/Sunday school class as your “at least once a week”? Most people probably would. Don’t lie to yourself.
The situation is fairly grim. We have numerous Christians who don’t even own Bibles, let alone Bibles they would read. Many churches have 15%, 25%, 50% more members on their roles than they have on a given Sunday. The consumption of porn is way up. We know ridiculous amounts of information about sports teams that are constantly changing. We spend hundreds of dollars on new phones and Fortnite skins. Yet, at the same time, the numbers on Christian involvement are dropping. Even to people who call themselves Christians, Christianity isn’t a priority. Sure, lots of people have put some item associated with Jesus on their schedules. Shouldn’t that be enough?
Now, I am by no means advocating for this completely farcical utopia that some people in the US think ever existed. I don’t think there should be 250 million Christians in the US, falling on their knees at the alter every Sunday. It’s not about raw numbers. It’s about what the real numbers are doing. But the point I’m making, the situation at hand, is that a large number of people call themselves a Christian. But the data of how that group spends their time says otherwise.
The issue is pretty simple: many Christians live in a false sense of security because they think they are giving proper time and energy to Christ. You, the reader, need only to think about yourself. Answer these questions about yourself. How many times a week do you intentionally read the Bible? How often do you pray? Do you regularly involve yourself with a group of believers? Are you actively using your spiritual gifts for the edification of the saints and the building up of the church? I have no real basis to make a claim on numbers, but I would bet way more of you would have answered those questions unfavorably than we realize.
The issue is that there is a perfect creator God. If he has saved you from your sins, you owe him absolute and unfailing service that glorifies and honors him. Many Christians would affirm this on paper, but the data and the anecdotal reality for most people does not affirm that these things are actually being accomplished. Many of us spend hours on Saturday watching largely irrelevant football games, countless dollars on streaming subscriptions, and tons of energy on lustful relationships. At the same time, we skip services, we never read our Bible, we hardly pray, and we live lives of selfish and sinful desires that suit us. Many who call themselves a follower of Christ are really following everything but Christ. They have simply made him a part of the schedule.
The Myth and the Solution
The myth that so many fall victim to is that God has to be a part of their life. As long as he has a slice of the pie, then everything is good to go. As long as there is a Bible verse in their Twitter bio, they are set. As long as they say the Lord’s Prayer in the huddle, they will be fine. As long as they believe vaguely that God is real and that Jesus is a nice guy, they will go to Heaven. As long as they make it to a few services and own a Bible, they are solid. And maybe the “they” is actually you. And guess what? That’s literally not Christianity.
The solution is simple: reevaluate your priorities and then delete them all. God didn’t ask for a slice of the pie. He is the pie. God isn’t your Sunday Morning 11 am. He is the author of the breath you breathe 24 hours a day. God is not a priority. God is the priority. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Romans 12:1 calls us to present our bodies as a “living sacrifice.” Ephesians 2:10 calls us God’s workmanship, created to do things he prepared for us, which glorify and honor him.
It is not good enough to ensure that God simply make it on to the schedule. It is not good enough that some lukewarm devotional book gets touched 5 days out of the week. It’s not good enough that prayer consists of blessing your food and praying for one random family member. Quit living the blatant and sinful lie that God should be a part of your life. God is the author of life, the reason for yours, and the very savior of the world. He is not a part. He is the chief end.
The actual solution
Now, on a more practical level, what am I really getting at here? Should you be a monk, spending hours upon hours face down in prayer? Should you sell all you have, live in a van, and travel the globe (not in the van of course) sharing the Gospel? Should you live inside the sanctuary so you can always be near the altar? Of course not. That’s ridiculous and legalistic. I’m not even saying 51% or more of your personal time has to be spent actively reading the Bible and praying. What I am saying is that the combination of your times, resources, and intentions should be overwhelmingly for the Glory of Christ and to make his gospel known.
All I’m really saying is that all of the things that are not God and his gospel shouldn’t be getting your full attention and investment. Check your screen time. Turn off the TV. Delete that playlist. Give up that hobby. Stop eating at that restaurant. Put down the bad websites. Quit chasing the things that are vain and unfulfilling, and chase after the one who fulfills all. God being a part is not good enough– God should be all.
Let us spend more time in 2021 focused on what’s above more-so than what’s for lunch. Shall we?
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