What If I...

by Mark Klages, Christian Examiner Contributor |

So, one night, sitting around the campfire, listening to a little Casting Crowns and drinking coffee, I remembered a message I'd heard from Alistair Begg, and it was fitting. The song on the radio was one of Casting Crowns' lesser-known tunes, "What If I Gave Everything," and it asks a very simple question, followed by a very truthful answer.

So why am I still standing here?
So afraid what it might cost to follow You.

Sadly, it really is that simple in many cases – fear. Fear of what our friends or co-workers will say once we take that leap, make that step, reveal our true spirituality on a Monday instead of keeping it bottled up for next Sunday. Fear that our relationships will suffer, our drinking buddies won't invite us out or our gossip girls won't include us in their circle. Fear that work could get a little harder, our circle a little smaller, and our opinions and attitudes could be undermined by our "religion."

Or is it the fear that people will then expect us to act like Christians?

I mean, let's face it. If we come out as true believers, then that's the end of long nights at the bar with the guys. No more will we be welcome at the water cooler making jokes about or tearing down that overachieving co-worker or the new boss lady. I mean, the kids at school already call me names and nobody sits with me at lunch. If I show my true allegiance to Christ, I'll be completely alienated.

Alistair Begg's sermon focused on the anticipation of Christ and the fact that many of us here in these United States would rather not live as if He might return tomorrow, at which time we'll have to answer for every word, every deed, every failed witness opportunity; rather, we prefer to live like Christ isn't coming back anytime soon. Like the tattoo artist in the AT&T Wireless commercial, we're satisfied living "OK" with our Christianity. Maybe it goes something like this.

"Relax, Amigo, Christianity makes everything OK."
"Only, OK?"
"You're in the hands of one of THE gods of all time."
"You mean the One, True, God, right?"
"Yeah, something like that."
"Wait, shouldn't you be living like you actually read the Bible?"
"Stay in your lane, Bro."

Sure, I'm poking fun, but that's really how many of us live, myself included. If someone had to pick the "Christian" out of a lineup at work, he would have little chance of picking me over anyone else. Here in these United States, we don't talk about religion1 at work. But what if we did? What if we, as Christians, stopped being afraid of what the lady in HR says and trusted God to pave the way? What if we, as Christians, put more faith in The One True Living God than in our fear of offending someone? What if we, as Christians, worked within school or company policy to be an effective witness and to exemplify the tenets of Christianity in our everyday life rather than saving the Good News for a Sunday meeting?

I don't know.

But I'm willing to try it out, and see how He overcomes my obstacles for me. Like Mark Hall sang around the fire...

"I'm so tired of standing here.
Starting now, I'm stepping out onto deeper waters.
I want to see some mountains move."

1For the record, I'm using "religion" as a catch-all. I believe in a spiritual relationship with God the Father, through the intercession of Jesus Christ the Son and as enabled by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. "Religion" is too often restricted to denominational or political affiliation and can be as non-spiritual as religious adherence to a gym schedule.

–Mark Klages is an influential contributor, a former US Marine and a lifelong teacher who focuses on applying a Christian worldview to everyday events. Mark blogs at https://maklagesl3.wixsite.com/website under the title "God Provides where Hate Divides," with a heart to heal social, political, relational, and intellectual wounds through God's divine love and grace. Mark can also be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-klages-04b42511/.