Taking Christ for granted
Written by Mette Bjergbæk Klausen
“You Christians, you are taking Christ for granted!”. The words were uttered with a mixture of surprise, sorrow and disappointment, during a group discussion in a workshop for SEAN group leaders in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The person saying them was an ordained Christian pastor with a Muslim background, and his emotions were written across his face in bold letters.
Surprise – you have received this amazing gift to know Jesus and to know that he has bought salvation for you – and even done so at an enormous personal cost. By doing so, he showed you exactly how much he loves and cares for you, you are infinitely precious in his eyes. Consequently, you are set free to live. You don’t have to fear evil powers in this world, not even death. Why don’t you understand how huge that is? I know you don’t, because if you did, you would be singing His praises throughout your waking hours in sheer joy and gratitude!
Sorry – because you don’t understand, you don’t understand exactly how important it is for you to share this news with others. Because of your neglect, many people live - and die - in devastating fear without ever hearing the liberating words of the gospel and without knowing that they, too, are unconditionally loved in spite of all their flaws and shortcomings.
And disappointment – disappointment in you for failing to understand this and thus not acting on it, and in me for not being able to make you understand. Once the words are said, they just hang there in the thick, hot and humid Sierra Leonean air, while the next-door mosque is calling for prayers as a very potent reminder, that many people around us haven’t heard the gospel.
You could argue, that we were amongst the least deserving people to hear this man’s accusation. Here we are, most of us church leaders, some ordained and leading big congregations, some professional evangelists working full time in often challenging jobs in the mission field. And on top of that, we are presently studying at a workshop that will teach us how to use SEAN’s course Abundant Life to lead new believers into a Christian life in words and deeds. We could simply have dismissed his claim as outrageous, like good pharisees.
But whatever else we might be, at least we are honest. We smile a bit, shamefully casting glances at each other, while we silently acknowledge that he is right and accept his judgement without objections.
We have gotten used to the comfort of knowing us saved. We don’t go around singing, dancing and laughing, sharing our profound joy with the world around us. We have heard the words of the Bible explained to us – even explained them to others - in countless church services. Some of us were brought up with them, being raised in a Christian family and have known nothing else.
Having gotten used to the words of God’s love, forgiveness and salvation, we have stopped listening. We don’t take to heart exactly how huge they are anymore. Maybe we never did.
What a tremendous affect Christ has on our lives and thus should have on the lives of the people around us, through us. If we dare to listen to the words anew and act on them. For all our excellences, we could be doing so much more.
This is Advent. It’s the perfect time for all of us to consider our lives and begin putting some things right, as we prepare to meet the new-born king anew on Christmas night. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas.