A part time job helps you make ends meet but you really don’t want to be there – right? Today we talk about what happens when we treat following Christ like a part time job. We might know, to some degree, that we need God but we really don’t want to follow Christ. Let’s start with a few questions.

Have you ever opened up your heart to a person and started a friendship, a Christian, only to see them hurt you as they walk out on you? Maybe they were friends for ten years, they were in your home, you were in their home, then boom, they walk out of you. You never saw it coming. Have you ever gone to church in hopes that you would connect with God? As you visited, did you feel judged? Have you ever met a business person who claimed to be a Christian? Maybe they talked about the church they attend and even have a fish on their business card. At the end of the deal, did they ripped you off or do something behind your back? You wonder, how does that happen, there claimed to be a Christian? Have you ever met a Christian who appeared to be a mature Christian? They did all the right things. They have a good business, a calm home and followed rules like: we never watched ‘R’ rated movies [unless it’s the Passion of Christ]. Then you get to know them, and what you see is a selfish life mixed with Christian principles.

Why do these things happen; they are Christians? Because being a Christian doesn’t equal immediate life skills. Being labeled a Christian doesn’t automatically equal deep spiritual maturity. Being a Christian and attending a local church doesn’t equal great relationship skills. Being a Christians means, we recognized we have sin and asked God to forgive us. We are people saved by God’s grace – that’s it. In the book we are walking through, a lady asked the question,

“Why is it that so many Christians make such lousy human beings?”

To have emotional and spiritual health, to grow up, demands that we allow God to deal with the real issues of our heart. And the truth is, many people don’t want God to deal with real issues of their heart. That’s why you can meet someone who is labeled a Christian but have a hurtful or confusing interaction with them. It’s an enormous problem because it keeps people from growing up. Jesus said,

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life – to God! – is vigorous and requires total attention.” MSG – Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14

Following Christ, is not a part time thing. It’s not a minor change. It’s not adding or subtracting a few behaviors. Following Christ demands a radical change. I’ll put it another way. To grow up into who God wants us to be, demands that we deal with the issues of our heart. What do most people do? We look for ‘shortcuts to God, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in our spare time.’ In today’s Christianity, we can treat following Christ like a part time job. We have to have the job to make ends meet but we really don’t want to be there.

This is what I want you to see. If we treat following Christ like a part time job, we will fail to grow up into who God wants us to be. We will stay emotionally and spiritually immature. We will struggle to add or subtract a few behaviors and it never works out. If being a Christian is nothing more than banging out a few Sundays a month, trying not to use the ‘F’ word, struggling to not cheat on your spouse, you remain emotionally and spiritually immature. To grow up into emotional and spiritual adults, we must deal with the issues of our heart.

We want to challenge you, the way to life – to God! – is vigorous and requires total attention. This is why we are jumping into this series. We are teaching what it practically looks like to fully engage God. What it means to allow God to transform our hearts.

Today I want to talk about the 10 symptoms that pop up in our lives when we don’t allow God to transform our hearts. What happens when we treat Christianity like a part time job? You can read more about this in chapter 2 of the book.

Symptom 1: Using God to run from God.

That means, I create Christian activity that keeps me so busy that I can ignore being transformed by God. I appear to be mature but never ounce do I allow God to touch my soul. Five quick examples. 1.) When I do God’s work [volunteer] to satisfy me, not serve Him. 2.) When I do things in his name He never asked me to do. Then I tell people how busy and tired I am. 3.) When my prayers are really about God doing my will, not my surrendering to His will. We struggle to engage into the mess of life, we want God to make our life perfect. 4.) When I do ‘Christian behaviors’ in hopes that significant people will give me a job, validate me or think better of me. This is scary because it shows selfish motives. If we ultimately don’t get what we want, the relationship ends badly. 5.) I exaggerate my accomplishments to subtly compete with others. This is unhealthy because we compare and contrast ourselves with others in hopes we feel like a success.

Following Christ is a part time job, Symptom 2: I will ignore my emotions of anger, sadness and fear.

We can’t ignore our feelings because they are real indicators of what is happening in our heart and soul. To feel is to be human.

Many people have the wrong idea that we don’t have the permission to admit or express our emotions. To be a mature Christian, they think, means we ignore our emotions, stuff them, and act like we have it all together. We have to show others how mature we are so we appear to never be too happy or too sad. Have you met this person?

Here is why this is so damaging. When we ignore our emotions and feelings, we are ignoring the condition of our heart. When we do that, we don’t allow God into our mess. We fail to walk with God. We fail to learn how to trust God as we experience the hardships of life. Our Christianity becomes a list of do’s and don’ts, not a relationship.

Following Christ is a part time job, Symptom 3: I will die to the wrong things. Jesus told said;

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. NLT Luke 9:23-25

When you read Jesus’ words, it sounds like we have to die to ourselves. We must lose ourselves. We must give up our lives. That means we must be miserable, right? People can conclude wrongly, the more miserable you are, the holier you are. The poorer you are, the holier you are. The more un-healthy you are because you are serving others, the holier you are. And any form of joy, rest or pleasure comes with guilt. How can you enjoy life if you are supposed to die daily? Yes, we are supposed to die to our sin but we are not supposed to die to the good things God gave us.

We aren’t enjoying the things God gave us so we become miserable. We can enter into this circle of depression. We try to be holy so we strive and struggle to die to anything selfish. Because we die to the wrong things, we are miserable. We conclude, I am miserable so I must be doing something wrong, I must die more. When someone tries to tell you, enjoy life, you can’t! That would make you feel guilty because you are supposed to die to self. This is an awful way to live.

Following Christ is a part time job, Symptom 4: Denying the past’s impact on the present.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God. NIV 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Yes, you are a new creation but your old bad habits are still there waiting to bite you. For example, how your family, Dad, Mom, Grandparents, Great Grandparents, etc. handled life, is deeply implanted in you. If ten out of twelve marriages in your family tree are divorced, don’t be surprised if you want to get a divorce. If five of your six uncles are alcoholics, don’t be surprised if you wrestle with alcohol. This makes sense, right? If your family only talked about money, insurance, safety and security, you will probably struggle with putting your trust in God. You will live your adult life in fear, doubt and worry. This is obvious, right?

Following Christ is a part time job, Symptom 5: Dividing your life into ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’ compartments.

We love to compartmentalize, it makes life easier. I go to church, I act holy [whatever that is], I am quiet, responsive and humble. We think that is what good religious people do. The moment I leave church, I am free from the oppression of religious rules. I am free to now drop the ‘F’ bomb on the guy who cut me off. I can get slammed with my college roommates. I can score a hit with my high school friends. If I see the pastor, I have to immediately act religious, like I am holy again. I am not the same in every environment. If you compartmentalize, it’s easy to live like this. It’s fake and lacks integrity but it allows me to act the way I really want to act.

Gallup Poll says, one of the greatest scandals of our day is that “evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered and sexually immoral as the world in general.”

As a result of living a compartmentalized life, we live in pain because we are missing out on every promise God has for us. We stay in control, we stay selfish and Godless. We never invite God into the core of who we are and into our thoughts and behaviors. We miss out on experiencing God.

Following Christ is a part time job, Symptom 6: Doing for God instead of being with God.

Christians are preprogrammed to do for God. We equate doing is maturity. The problem is, this isn’t 100% wrong and it’s not 100% right either. If we are constantly doing Christian activity for God and not allowing God to transform our souls of sin and attitudes, what comes out of our ‘doing’ for God is our ego, desire for power, need for approval from others, weird ideas of success. God doesn’t come out of us, our junk comes out of us.

Busy Christians doing busy things can appear to be mature. Many times, it can also be an indicator of unhealth. Here is how you know. Can they serve faithfully behind the scenes or do they have an agenda?

Following Christ is a part time job, Symptom 7: Spiritualizing away conflict.

The truth is, most of us come from families that did not resolve conflict in a mature and healthy way. What did we learn? Saying one thing to people’s face and saying another behind their backs. Make promises with no intention on following through. How to blame. How to attack. How to give the silent treatment. Become sarcastic. Give in because we are afraid of not being liked. Leak our anger. Tell only half truths. Say yes when we mean no. Avoid, withdraw and cut off. Get a third person involved.

Conflict is something we need to properly engage.

Following Christ is a part time job, Symptom 8: Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure.

We are all flawed and broken. To ignore it, smile, post happy quotes, text happy emojis is nonsense.

Allow me to read for you why Jesus came to earth.

He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. 6 We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. 7 He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. MSG Isaiah 53:5-7

That’s for you. To be healed. Please hear me. Jesus didn’t only come to forgive you, He also came to heal you. If life has wounded you with unfair blows, Jesus is has come to heal you. Too many people have been wounded by life and assumed that they did something wrong or that God is mad at them. Not true. Maybe you did nothing wrong. Maybe God isn’t mad at you. Maybe the sin in this world hurt you. Please hear me, Jesus has come to heal you.

Following Christ is a part time job, Symptom 9: Living without limits.

Every person has 24 hours in a day. You have a time limit. To ignore this would be silly but yet we do this every day. We act like we have 34 hours in a day. When we ignore our natural life limits, we become over extended. What happens? To make up the time we are losing, we ignore our time with God. To be more productive at work, we ignore our spouse. We ignore our family to accomplish. Over time of living this way, it will create enormous damage. You simply can’t ignore the limits of your life and not expect future damage.

Following Christ is a part time job, Symptom 10: Judging other people’s spiritual journey.

I love this quote,

“If you are occupied with your own faults, you have no time to see those of your neighbor.”

Paul wrote,

If you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done. MSG Romans 2:1-2

Our role is to love, accept and forgive. God judges.

Peter Scazzero wrote,

By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitably project onto them out own discomfort with their choice to liv life differently than we do. We end up eliminating them in our minds, trying to make others like us, abandoning them altogether or falling into a “who cares?” indifference toward them.

Jesus said,

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life – to God! – is vigorous and requires total attention.” MSG – Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14

The damage that is done when we treat following Christ life like a part time job is immaturity. Not growing up into who God wants us to be. We aren’t allowing God to transform those parts deep inside us.

What’s following Christ like for you? Has it been a radical change? Has it been like that part time job you need to make ends meet but you really don’t want to be there? Do you connect with any of these symptoms?