By P.J. Casebolt
We are filled with righteous indignation when we think about the way of truth being evil spoken of because some ungodly church members follow their pernicious ways (2 Pet. 2:1,2). And, while the hypocrite argument is used as a scapegoat, all too often there are times when the charge itself is justified (Rom. 2:24). However, there is no justification for remaining in disobedience, just because some children of God engage in hypocrisy (2 Cor. 13:7).
But I have seen people obey the truth in spite of hypocrites and other highly visible obstacles. I once baptized a boy whose father had threatened to whip him if he went near the waters of baptism. I have witnessed uncommon courage on the part of those who confessed the name of Christ, knowing full well what persecutions and hardships would follow that confession.
Still, I believe there is a more difficult obstacle to overcome, both by the teacher and the one being taught. It is the obstacle of trivial pursuit as played by many church members.
I have never played a popular game by that name, and know little about it, but I do know what the term “trivial” means, and I know what the term “pursuit” means. And I know that some church members are playing a game of trivial pursuit.
These members will forsake the assemblies of the church and other duties while pursuing things which are trivial by any definition, and much more so when compared to seeking first the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). Some are simply “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4), while others allow company, vacations, social activities and a host of other trivial things to keep them from their appointed rounds of delivering their spiritual mail.
Such trivial excuses for absenteeism and failure would not be tolerated one minute by our public school system or by an employer. Yet, professed Christians either think that they are fooling the Lord, or that he will just wink at such glaring irresponsibility. God no longer winks at ignorance (Acts 17:30), much less deliberate acts which are ,either pernicious or trivial in nature.
I still remember the picture of Don Quixote on the lefthand page of my elementary reader. He was arrayed in full armor, his lance at the ready, and his steed at full gallop as he charged the hapless windmill. Maybe it was all just a fable, but at least, in his own sight, Don’s, mission and purpose were meaningful. I doubt that some members have any goal or purpose whatever as they follow their trivial pursuits in life.
Personally, I believe that those members who pursue the trivial things of life are more of a hindrance to the truth than those who follow their pernicious ways. Let me explain.
Jesus told the church at Laodicea that he would they were “cold or hot” (Rev. 3:15). You can gauge a thing by a hot or cold standard, but the quality of lukewarmness leaves no means of comparison.
Furthermore, I know what this lukewarm, trivial attitude does to my spirit, and I can hardly be classified as an alien sinner, a novice, or a babe in Christ. Nothing discourages me anymore than this indifferent attitude displayed by those who are supposed to be a converted, peculiar people.
I turned my back on denominationalism, and never once looked back. I have been “in perils among false brethren,” even at times having to withstand the very brethren who taught me the truth and encouraged me to preach the gospel, but I “gave place by subjection, no, not-for an hour” (Gal. 2:5).
Like Paul, “none of these things move me,” but I readily confess that the trivial pursuits and lukewarm attitudes of some church members discourage me more than any other thing. It’s like trying to fight a faceless, nebulous enemy upon whom even the sword of the Spirit seems to have no effect.
I understand more and more why the apostle exhorts us to “be steadfast, unmoveable” (1 Cor. 15:58), and to “not be weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9). And, if the seasoned soldier is subject to discouragement, how much more the one who is seeking for, or has just recently found the truth?
Once the salt has lost its savor, there is no leavening influence left. Only God knows how many prospective converts have looked at some lukewarm church member, gotten a fuzzy picture of the pure and undefiled religion of Christ, and turned away sorrowfully.
The Lord gives us a distasteful picture of the lukewarm church member (“I will spue thee out of my mouth”), and such a picture is discouraging even to those rooted and grounded in the faith. How much more are those still in bondage to sin apt to remain in that bondage, when they see careless, professed Christians engaged in trivial pursuits?
Materially speaking, trivial pursuit may be a harmless game for those who wish to rest the physical body or exercise the mind. Spiritually speaking, such an exercise can turn out to be a morsel traded for a birthright, or the husks which swine eat, when compared to seeking first the kingdom of God and eternal life.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 2, p. 43
January 19, 1989