By Ray Miranda
Pastor of the Story church in Wylie
I’ve been the person who invited people to drinking parties and I’m now the person that invites people to come check out the church I’m part of. Because of this, I’m comfortable in a pub and I’m comfortable at a church gathering. Needless to say, I’ve seen what people think about faith from so many different vantage points. I remember being in High School and College and being at church where I looked around at the crowd to spot the people I’d being partying with the night before. It didn’t bother me at the time but I did find it ironic. I’m sure that some of the people that saw me knew that I didn’t take my faith very seriously and they would’ve been right (though I would’ve argued with them about this at the time). Then, with alcohol on my breath from the night before, I became a Christian at a church gathering on March 1, 1998. After that, whatever people thought about me, I think they would have said that I do take my faith seriously. In college, my life didn’t reflect a serious faith but later it did.
This leads me to something I heard that resonated with me (I don’t remember who said it): “There are two things that have surprised me most after becoming a Christian. The first is how much a life can change after someone says they’ve become a Christian. The second is how little a persons life can change after they say they’ve become a Christ-follower.” I’ve spent more than just a little bit of time wondering about why this contrast exists. Now, I could address some theological points on this that are true and important. But I want to look at this from an angle that you might not have invested a lot of time thinking about. I believe a big part of why so many people that call themselves Christians haven’t experienced much life-change is because so many don’t take their faith personally. Let me explain.
Have you noticed, the most passionate people about a cause are the ones who have personally been impacted by it? Michael J. Fox was probably not nearly as passionate about Parkinson’s until he go it – personally. You’ve heard people say something like – “Don’t take it personally.” One way to define this is for someone to not take something so serious. You and I have both seen times when people have taken something personally and times when they haven’t.
If you are a Christian (even if you are not), you can probably remember times when you heard something from the Bible and didn’t take it personally. It could’ve been during a church gathering, or someone quoting something that was in the Bible. Perhaps you may have even felt something tug on your heart to serve, give, volunteer, forgive, get involved, be baptized, heal your marriage or whatever. It may have even been a tug on the heart saying, “You really need to find a church home.” But, right when we hear it or feel it, it’s like we create our own little voice that says, “Yeah, but don’t take it personally.” Then we breathe just a little bit easier and say, “Whew, now that was a close one. I thought I might have to actually do something with that one.” Have you noticed that the Christians who have seemed to have experienced incredible life-change are the ones who have taken it very personally. They realize how much the Lord has done for them and, out of thankfulness, they can’t help but to follow the Lord (though no one is perfect in this, of course).
I don’t know where you are in all this. But I do believe that the Lord is tugging on your heart and placing opportunities right in front of you (and me). The Lord is giving you these steps for a reason. If you follow Him, He will lead you to a life that is more enriching than anything you could’ve dreamed up on your own. All you have to do is follow those tugs of the heart and opportunities that He gives you. He will see to it that you get where He wants us to go. The reason? He takes you very personally.