1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
"Creation", a large Christian gathering of bands, speakers and those who come to see them invaded our nearby town of Enumclaw this past week. Among the performers were names that we all know and love, names that have written modern-day hymns that we all occasionally sing in church on Sundays, and groups or bands that, while they call themselves "Christian", and make you wonder why. Knowing that there were 12,000 plus Christians in the area for the event, and that the night before that many of them had gathered at the local Starbucks until they got booted out at 1:00 AM, my family and I decided to go and see what we might be able to do with regards to ministering to some of the young people as they wound down for the night. With my intent for this sharing not being a judgment of which bands fall into what categories, and what really represents Christianity and what does not, I'll let you all draw your own lines and get comfortable in them before I move on…
Sold out. That's the title. Sold out. Are you? Well, when it comes to Christianity, we are ALL sold out. Isn't that exciting?! We are ALL sold out for Jesus! Well, I said we are all sold out, but not all sold out for in the same way. Some are sold out for Jesus, on fire for his Word and love and our relationship to Him. Others, well, they just plain sold out. Sold out as in, we have sold out our morality, sense of responsibility to our faith, and decided that while we definitely need a savior in Jesus to get to heaven, that in the mean time my freedoms will be more important to me than living a Romans 12 life sold out to God.
That night we arrived at the local Starbucks at about 10:30 PM, ordered our drinks…and waited. By 11:00 while we watched the occasional customer come and go, there was only Creation attendee there at the shop. We did not have to reach out to him, he was FIRED UP! He just left the concert, was having loads of fun, was abuzz with energy (this before his coffee mind you) and his mouth was running a mile a minute! How cool to see one of our youth so excited about Jesus and his faith to take the time out of his life to come to a 4 day event to celebrate that faith with other believers and to begin to grow an even closer relationship with Jesus. He was fired up all right… but not for Jesus, just for the music.
(We'll call him Mark) The conversation went something like this:
- Mark: WOW! I'm so pumped!
- Tom: Is the concert over?
- Mark: Nope they are STILL playing – WOO-whooo!!
- Tom: So how's the show?
- Mark: GREAT! YEAH!!!!
- Tom: So why'd you leave?
- Mark: The crowd was too rowdy. It's a 'heavy' band tonight. I had to leave. People are just getting out of hand.
- Tom: Why do you suppose that is?
- Mark: Well, the music is just that way, and it kinda makes you want to do that sort of thing.
- Tom: Why do you suppose that is Mark? Do you think they are glorifying God when they do that?
- Mark: Well, it's because they want to get rowdy. That's why a lot of people come to these events, just for the concerts and to have a chance to cut loose with their friends
- Tom: Do you think they are glorifying God when they do that?
- Mark: No.
- Tom: Mark, is you being here glorifying God?
- Mark: Well I guess not.
Granted, this is a paraphrase of a conversation that took an hour for a geeked-up, wired-out concert goer who likes to call himself a Christian, only then to find himself acting in a way that ruins contrary to his own definitions of Christianity. He's following the desires of his flesh, and not following a path that expresses the glory of God in his life and witness. For a moment (upon self reflection) Mark, who had not been able to close his mouth for an hour… suddenly had nothing to say.
Oh, don't worry, he bounced right back. But in the mean time we had a conversation that that really caused Mark some pause. He finally had some clarity to see that his behavior was limiting if not his relationship to Jesus, at bare minimum his ability to be effective for Jesus. He could now see why he was no longer in youth ministry in his church (he was asked to not participate by the pastors). He was beginning to see why relationships in his life crumbled, and why some of the things he loved began to not satisfy him anymore. He was beginning to understand his loneliness. He was beginning to understand that when Chris Tomlin took the stage and graced the presence of this concert with his gift of music, praise and worship (a gift that God had given him, and that he returns to God in the form not just music - but modern days hymns and anthems of Christianity)… that all he could do was weep.
This devotional is not about finger pointing, being the 'barking dog' police officer of Christianity, or the judge of your walk and relationship with Jesus. Rather, it is about asking, humbly, that you take a deep look at your life, your walk, and whether you are Sold Out to Jesus, or just plain sold out to the world.
Trust me; we all need improvement in our walks. I allow things to affect my countenance that in turn affect my relationship with my wife and children. I allow things to come between myself and God because my flesh wins out from time to time. But, I do not set up my life to feed my flesh over my spirit, and that I think is the key. What I mean by that is we need to examine what drives us. Is it time with the Lord in quiet reading or meditation, or is it time on our boat, or on the mountain skiing, or hiking or whatever. Ask yourself this right now: if you could be anywhere other than where you are right now, where would that be? If that place is a place that feeds your flesh over your spirit, you have some tweaking to do in your life.
Self examination is what I'm talking about. Romans 12 is what I'm talking about. Are you conforming to the world, or are you being renewed by Christ? Ask that question of yourself to the Lord today. I'll let Him decide. Sold Out for Jesus, or just plain sold out…