In a couple of weeks, many people will find themselves in a church building who have not been in one since Easter Day. They might do this traditionally, they might do this for the sake of a more religious family member, or they might do this thinking that they are honoring Christ in some way by showing up for two services during the year that are dedicated to his birth and resurrection. Those of us who are found in church services quite regularly will, as we do every year, criticize those who think that they can appease God with their two acts of annual service, and we will criticize them rightly for we know that Christ demands much more of his followers.
However, many of us faithful attendees who criticize the Christmas and Easter crowd do not seem to understand that Christ demands much more of his followers than just a full year of church services—he demands complete obedience to his commands. He said to his followers, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” yet many of us who claim to love him know nothing of his commands; or worse, we do know his commands and blatantly disobey them and therefore do not love him.
We look at the Gospels1 much like the Chreasters2 look at attending church services, for we know the Gospels’ beginnings concerning Christ’s birth and we know their endings concerning Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, but we know nothing of the rest. We might know their content—their “nice” stories and Jesus’ healings, but we do not really know them. For if we did know the Gospels, we would know that Christ commands his followers to love God and to love one another and that Christ clearly shows over and over and over that we love God by loving others and that we love others by surrendering our possessions and our lives for their sake.
His command and call to this joyful poverty is universal. He commands it of the rich man (cf. Matt. 19:21), he commands it of his disciples (Luke 12:32, 33), he commands it of the hearers of his Sermon (cf. Matt. 6:19), and he commends its practice in the widow who gave all that she had (Mark 12:41-44). Everyone of us falls into this spectrum, from the widow who gave all that she had to the rich young ruler who rejected Christ by keeping his wealth. None of us is excluded.
The question you must then ask yourself, you who are found in church services year round: do you find your comfort in being “better” than those whom you affectionately label Chreasters, or do you find your comfort in loving Christ and keeping his commandments? For if you are not selling your possessions, you should not be comfortable for you are not loving Christ.
1- i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John
2- “Chreaster” is a combination of the words “Christmas” and “Easter” and is used by some to label those who only come to church at those times.