Part of the Allen family lore is the story of my dad visiting us while we were living in Honolulu. We were driving around looking for a place to eat when he blurted out, “Let’s go to the Flaming Chicken.” Surprised, because I had never heard of such a restaurant, I looked around and saw a very well known eating establishment called The Flamingo Chuckwagon. Needless to say, the family laughter went into storage as a fun tale about our father’s reading skills. His reply was, “Well, it’s close.”
I’ve been thinking that this is how many of us approach the Christian life. If it’s got the same start and ends up at the same place, it’s “close enough.” “Flaming _ _ _ _n,” close enough.
I was reading the story of the believer who lived a “close enough” Christian life. He was a believer but only on Sundays; the rest of his life looked pretty much like the average, run-of-the-mill pagan.
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 1 Corinthians 3:12–13
Now, it’s clear from verse 11 that this man is building his life on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11
But, when the man’s everyday actions of life (despite being built on the foundation of Christ) are judged they’re found worthless.
He had the right start… Jesus Christ, Himself. And he had the same end… an accounting judgment. But, it was not nearly “close enough” to please God.
We are not talking about a man losing his salvation and going to hell. Verse 15 states,
If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15
I’m thinking that our lesson from these scriptures is, it matters to the Lord what goes between our faith-start and our final accounting. Close enough is not close enough.
The command is for Christ-followers to live an on-going process described as being worthy of the calling… or worthy of God. The Almighty has endured the blood, anguish, and suffering of His own Son, so that we could have that foundation of faith. Now we are admonished to live up to that start.
so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:12
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, Ephesians 4:1
A “close enough” kind of lifestyle doesn’t meet the criteria of these verses.
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 1 Corinthians 3:10
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, Ephesians 5:15
This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. Titus 3:8
Some of us might be asking, “That’s all well and good, but how exactly am I supposed to be careful how I live in order to live worthy of God’s call on my life?” I think the answers are simple and found in the same scriptures that challenge us to not live “close enough” kind of lives. I see three basic principles:
1. Go to church to be encouraged and to encourage your fellow believers.
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25
This is not a suggestion. This is a command. Go to church. Find a good one. Keep searching. Don’t give up. Don’t forsake church because it takes effort.
2. Study the Bible and live what it teaches.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
If you don’t know how to study the scriptures, find a teacher, find a good pastor, take a class. Be diligent.
3. Find a spiritual mentor – an older believer who walks the talk. And for you more mature Christ-followers, be a spiritual mentor. Walk worthy!
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2
In summary, the Christian life is not a “close enough” life. God expects, in fact demands, a good middle – not just a good beginning and the inevitable end. The great news is that He is with us every step of the way. Pray for His help in finding a good church, learning His Word, and finding (or being) a mentor. His power, His mercy, His grace, and His miraculous provision will bring you through a life worthy of Jesus Christ.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
Just remember, the life of a Christ-follower… It’s not Flaming Chicken.
Think about it.