Don’t Trifle

“May it not be one of the consequences of this that so many of you are a generation of triflers; triflers with God, with one another, and with your own souls. For how few of you spend, from one week to another, a single hour in private prayer? How few have any thought of God in the general tenor of your conversation?”[1]  These words from John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity ring even more true today than when he preached them at Oxford in 1744.

            Many people had become accustomed to an outward appearance of Christianity, with no real transformation needed nor wanted. These people “trifled” with God, meeting with Him when they were socially obligated to do so. In their religious obligation, they did not find deep relationship with Him. They did not experience the fulness of His love to them. They never grew beyond Christian infancy. Paul had a similar problem with the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 3:2-3). Twentieth century America had the same problem. There was a lot of surface Christianity, but nothing with roots deep enough to weather the storms of life.

            Americans were sold a cheap faith. A “guarantee” of eternal life without any real sacrifice. People by the millions bought this discount faith thinking of it as fire insurance. Now, we are reaping what has been sown in the land. Preachers led people to believe that the baptistry was the finish line instead of the starting line. People did not grow. They suffered spiritual malnourishment. They were weak and ineffective. They were a prayerless people, and now their children don’t have a prayer.

            What if we do things differently? What if we train as if we are at war, as Ephesians 6 reminds us that we are? If your only daily prayer is followed by “pass the potatoes,” your prayer life is weak and ineffective. Scripture that is never studied will not strengthen you. If you are not enthusiastically and willingly seeking to follow Jesus, you are trifling with Him. Superficial Christianity is weak, ineffective, and in fact is not Christianity at all.

            If, however, you spend much time in prayer, God is listening to you and you to Him. You are more effective when you follow His marching orders. Time spent in study of scripture is never wasted. One senior saint in her seventies told me that she is often amazed by reading the scripture and noticing something not previously seen. Spend time seeking after God and He will reward you with new insights.  Involve Christ in more of your conversations. Talk to other believers about what He is doing in their lives and share what He is doing in yours. And talk to those who don’t know Him, because they need you to show them who He is.

[1] John Wesley. “Scriptural Christianity” in The Works of John Wesley: Volume 1. Edited by Albert C. Outler. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1984). 179.