The Casual Christian

The Casual Christian

by Dr. Curt Brannan

We live in the day of “casual.”  There is hardly an area of life where casual dress hasn’t become the norm – dinner, travel, parties, weddings, funerals, school, church –casual seems considered adequate by many for nearly any occasion or activity.

But, I’m not an etiquette teacher.  Apart from modesty or challenging authority, my concern doesn’t generally revolve around how people decide to dress.  It runs deeper.  Casual has become not just a way to dress, but also an attitude in our time.  It is used to describe areas of life central to who we are. For instance, casual is coupled with words like sex, friendships, business relationships, commitments, and even marriage.

The word casual is, by definition, lack of emotional commitment, seriousness and loyalty. It is permissive in its approach to things and has little interest or enthusiasm to be more than superficially involved. Though not many want to think of it this way, casualness mostly centers on “me,” and doing what makes “me” comfortable, fits “my” schedule or fulfills “my” agenda.

The Trap of Casual Faith                

Now right here I am tempted to begin discussing the culture, what’s happening to the attitudes of today’s youth, family in general or some other non-threatening venue we could all agree on and discuss with critical indignation. But, that isn’t really my concern either! Instead we need to talk about us – our GCA family – because we can be infected by this attitude as well.

Here is my deepest concern.  Though none of us would suggest God isn’t central to life, though we mostly go to church with regularity and though we want our children to be taught in an environment where God is given His place, we can fall into living our faith with a casualness that borders on indifference.  There is nothing that undermines a child’s faith life more quickly than to see a parent claim faith, claim love for God, but live before them in a way that says something quite different.

We all want the blessings of God for our children! We want to know they will walk in the footprints of faith we have laid down before them. How many of us have thought, as we have watched some tragic story unfold in a friend’s life, “my child would never do that.”  But is that true?  When they are little we may have control.  But then what can we do when they are on their own, left to choose for themselves and no longer defined by what mom and dad tell them is important?

When God Takes Second Fiddle

 Here’s what I am suggesting. If our excitement reflects itself in the latest sporting event, but we aren’t much excited about the things of God, they will know what is important in life as far as we are concerned.  If our entertainment takes priority over worship or service to others, they will take note that this is the way to live.  If we are serious about making money, but not about God’s concern for its use, they will understand what has first priority.  And if what they see shows our agendas take precedence over God’s, they will learn they can just look good, but not worry so much about giving Him priority.

Though school is important, the critical question is not what our children learn of God at school, but what they learn of God from mom and dad.  The psalmist understood and after reminding us that we are all “like grass” soon gone out of their lives, he lays down the foundation for a legacy of living faith.

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.Psalm 103:17,18 ESV (emphasis mine)

Casual doesn’t go with “fear.”  Fear of God means He comes first, not just in word, but in our interests, remembrance, attention, actions, and priorities –our lives! I really don’t care what we wear to church next Sunday. Nor are the things we “say” about God to our children of first importance.  The real test comes at the point where they see the things we areexcited about and give ourselves to.

What do they see in your faith life? Is it commitment, loyalty, seriousness, interest, and enthusiasm or just a casual attention that takes second place to the “really exciting” things going on?