8 July 2019

“I have Jesus sorted out, so now I need to focus on my real life; my studies, and career, and lifestyle.”

I remember a young Christian saying this to me. I had just asked them if they were sure they were going to heaven. They answered “Of course! I have Jesus sorted out, so now I need to work on my real life.”

It reminded me of the times when I separated Jesus and my ‘real life’. As a young Christian man, I played field hockey. I would get angry and say expletives and mutter about the ref and opposing players. For me, my Christianity did not extend to the hockey field.

I would hear on Sunday that anger is wrong. But I would hang on to a single verse: “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”. My wrong understanding of that verse would override anything else I heard, because it gave me permission to be angry in the moment, as long as my anger didn’t last till tomorrow. I wanted permission, because sometimes I wanted to be angry. It felt strong.

I think most of us separate our faith from our ‘real life’ somewhere, sometimes.

“Do not store up wealth. No one can serve two masters.”  

No, of course not. But I think I can!

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or impurity, because it’s improper for God’s holy people.” 

Never! But sometimes it is such a relief to use porn.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, kindness, and gentleness.” Yes! But I wasn’t being rude – I was just joking.

We are pretty good at giving ourselves permission, and getting others to give us permission, to do what we know we shouldn’t do.

The most loving thing to do when I’m giving myself permission to sin, is not to sympathise with me, or ignore me, but to take the risk to say something. Lovingly.

Please don’t look down on me. You might not have my sin, but the Bible says you have your own. Come alongside me gently, with kindness, and as many other fruits of the Spirit as you can. Even if I bite back! Pray for me that the Holy Spirit will use your words on my heart.

Jesus is not a little ticket that I can tuck down in my pocket, to pull out when I die like a ‘Get out of Hell Free’ card. This dishonours Jesus. The wonderful rescue Jesus gives freely to all who want it is so great it must change our lives. It must turn us upside down.

If I think there is any part of my life that can remain unaffected, I haven’t understood how long and wide and deep and high is the love of Christ. My real life is life with Jesus. The rest is less real because it won’t last, and dishonours me too.

Joe Radkovic
Assistant Minister at 11am Easy English Church