Chan asked one of the leaders of the persecuted church in Asia: “Aren’t there some (Christians) that are casual (here)?”
The leader answered: “That doesn’t make sense here, why would you casually call yourself a Christian, when you know that the moment you call yourself a Christian your whole village will turn from you, your whole family, and you lose everything, so why would you ever do that casually?”
|Francis Chan challenged us individually and
organizationally to not just be casual in our faith.
I love it when I see God really trying to teach me something, or at least make me aware of something. I am sure you have had this happen to you as well, you know, those times when God continually brings a certain message or theme to your attention in different ways over a period of time. Well, the past several months has been one of those themed periods for me. And what do I feel God asking me this time? This: “Nate, are you a casual Christian?”
I actually started to write this blog post – although it looked much different than it does now – back in late May or early June, when our time in Colorado had just started. Interestingly enough, I have not been able to complete the original blog post I started because God kept feeding me more and more around this subject. The above dialogue at the top of this post is something that Francis Chan shared with us at our U.S. Staff Conference with Campus Crusade for Christ that we attended this summer in Fort Collins, Colorado. It seemed obvious to me that the Holy Spirit had placed this message on Francis Chan’s heart, to challenge us (Cru) as an organization… but it felt even more like God had prepared the message just for me! The story I quoted above that Chan shared with us was in reference to some time he spent traveling through Asia several months ago, where he and his family sold everything they had and just left to go and spend time with the persecuted churches in places like India and China. After spending some time there, he shared with us, he was amazed with how it seemed like everyone that he met there was so intense about their faith in Jesus. This observation is what lead him to ask one of the leaders in those countries the question above and receive the above answer.
With thoughts of the persecuted church in Asia, I thought of some of the students that we will be reaching down in Florida when we report and join our team on the Walt Disney World College Program missional team, because some of the students are from these and other countries around the world where Christians are persecuted. One such student, whom we call Lili and tell a little more about in our newest prayer letter, is from one of these East Asian countries that does not allow Christians to freely worship and live out a Christian life. When she was discussing her recent decision to become a Christian with one of our Cru team members, Lindsey, there was a point where she became serious and said, “This isn’t going to be easy when I return home, but I can’t wait to share with my parents.” Lindsey asked her if she was afraid of what her non-Christian parents might think when they hear the news of Lili’s new-found faith. Lili responded, “It doesn’t matter. I’m a Christ-follower now.” She knows the challenges she faces when she returns home – for Christians in these countries the challenges are much more obvious than here in America. And in the face of these challenges, they have everything (in a worldly sense) to lose by truly deciding to be a Christ-follower. Do we here in America live out our faith in the same way?
Last week at lunch with a friend, our conversation turned to this topic where he shared, “I’m tired of being a comfortable Christian, I’m just too comfortable.” Man, that seems like how too many of us are as believers in America, but I don’t think it is because we are in a “free” country and can openly be a Christian. Rather, I think it more tends to be because we are not truly following Christ, as He commanded us to. We all just take this “Christian” thing too casually here, because we can.
Next blog, I’m going to expand on what God has been sharing with me, and specifically I plan to look at some examples we see in the book of Acts. I would love to challenge anyone reading this blog to dig through the book of Acts, really look at and dissect what that early church lived like… Then, think of our church here in America today, as most people know the church… Are we living out the faith we claim to have? Or are we just casual Christians?