All in—on being a Christian with gusto
By Jessica Brodie
My poor kitty. There she was, front paws on the desk, back paws on the rolling chair—and that chair was slowly sliding in the opposite direction. Instead of choosing one or the other, she froze.
And, naturally, fell.
Kitty was fine, of course. But I’ve been in her position, too, and it didn’t go so well. That time I needed to make a tough decision but instead straddled the proverbial fence and decided to take the “safe” path. That time I chose fear over fight, or the crowd over what was right.
I’ve grown since then. I like to think I walk with integrity most days, now. I hope and pray I’ve learned to stand in the light and speak out against injustice and evil whenever the opportunity arises. But things are not always black and white. Sometimes there’s so much gray it’s hard to tell. The choice gets difficult.
When it comes to Christianity, however, there is no gray. Jesus tells us He is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 CEB).
Reading the apostle Paul’s letter to the early Christians in Corinth got me thinking about what it means to embrace that admonition. In his letter, Paul tells the early Christians they should “Run to win. … Fight like a boxer in the ring, not like someone who is shadowboxing” (1 Corinthians 9:24, 26 CEB).
Back then, being Christian wasn’t an easy choice. Early Christians were often labeled rebels or enemies of the state. They chose to proclaim God as lord of their lives, not Caesar or any other earthly ruler. In consequence, they often faced punishment, arrest, torture, and death. When Paul tells them to “run to win” and “fight like a boxer in the ring,” he means they need to be all-in when it comes to their faith. They shouldn’t tiptoe on the edges of following Jesus. They need to follow Christ with gusto, with all they have and then some. Forget halfway, loosey-goosey, wishy-washy Christianity—you’re Christian or you’re not. Period. Forget shadowboxing, which means throwing empty punches at the air. Box for real.
That’s exactly what Jesus seems to be saying in the Gospel of John. Jesus isn’t lukewarm about his instruction that he’s the path to God. He didn’t say He is “a” way or “the best” option—He says He is “the” way, and further, that “no one” comes to the Father except through Him. There’s nothing halfway about those statements. Those are strong and confident claims. The Son of God is speaking the whole truth and nothing but the truth to us.
Today, some of us live in nations that still oppress Christianity, while others enjoy religious freedom in the United States and other locations, yet feel compelled by secular friends or workplace pressures to keep a lid on their faith.
Let’s consider the words of Paul, and of Jesus, and take a bold, triumphant, and confident stand for our faith.