I recently read a book titled Settle for More written by former Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly. The book, autobiographical in nature, shows how she has overcome a variety of difficulties and set-backs. Set-backs and obstacles are common to all people, but the way we handle them is crucial. In Kelly’s particular case, the untimely death of her father and the difficulties of career burn-out greatly affected the course of her life. She was inspired one day while hearing Dr. Phil on television saying “The only difference between you and the person you envy is you settled for less.” She goes on to talk about how that quote changed her life. The key to getting from where you are to where you want to be takes determination and persistence. But it also requires a person to pay a certain price; therefore it is necessary to weigh out how much we really want something.
In reading this book, and reflecting, I cannot help but make a comparison between this concept and the Kingdom of Christ and His church. After pastoring for almost 22 years I can assuredly say I have seen overwhelming numbers of believers “settle for less,” in their walks with God, when they should only be settling for more.
Everywhere I look it seems there are people pursuing their dreams and goals educationally, economically, in regards to their career, and in regards to their family. People are adding to their personal collections of whatever they collect, talking about trying a new restaurant, saving for a dream vacation, and getting all their ducks in a row for retirement. But how important are these things really? Certainly, they bring us some level of happiness and that is fine. However, I must ask, “How much do they matter in the long run?” Everything at a garage sale was new at one time. Furthermore, everything at the city landfill was also new at one time! Your old clunker probably was once a source of pride when you first drove it home. Your new cloths quickly become old. We tend to pursue things with very limited value with gusto while displaying a great deal of apathy about some things that really do matter, and matter a lot, like the Kingdom of Christ.
I have observed many believers sadly settling for much less than God desires. I grew up in church but I did not necessarily always want to be there. In fact, I am confident in saying that I would not have gone most of the time had not my parents made me go. But, there came a change in me in my late teen years when I really committed my life to Christ. I could not get enough church. I could not get enough preaching, teaching, or reading from the Scriptures. The best way I can describe how I felt, and still feel, is that it is like an “unquenchable thirst” that I have now and have had for the better part of 30 years. I have since built a decent size library of Christian books simply out of a desire to learn and know more about God. It is very hard for me to understand how others are not reacting the same way I reacted when first coming to know Christ. It seems I am constantly asking myself about others, “Do they really know Christ?” I hope so, but their behavior and lack of desire for the things of God, sure makes it hard to tell sometimes.
So many Christians fall into a comfortable groove of settling for less, even far less, than God desires. C. S. Lewis wrote “God is not so much offended that we want too much as by the fact that we are satisfied with so little.” Paul commends the church at Philippi to develop and keep a joyful attitude about Christ that motivates them to ever-increasing service, just as it had occurred in his life. He writes “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me . . . forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14) Paul did not see this as merely for him, but he understood this thirst/desire for the things of God to be a hallmark of all Christians. He goes on “Therefore let us, as many as are mature have this mind . . . Brethren join in following my example and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” (Phil. 3:15; 17)
The modern day term “nominal Christian” is really a contradiction and would have really caused the Apostle Paul to scratch his head. The word “nominal” means “Existing in name only; small; far below the real value or cost.” Sadly, that is the best way to describe many who would claim the name of Christ. Their brand of Christianity does not resemble the third chapter of Philippians, but instead the dictionary’s definition of “nominal.” Paul wrote to young Timothy “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
In these difficult and morally challenging days in which we live, nominal Christians are unfortunately bearing testimony to their neighbors, classmates, co-workers, and extended families that there is little to “Christianity.” It is just a moniker or title and means little to nothing. They wear the name, without the changed lives.
Many of the great martyrs of centuries past went confidently to their own deaths, proclaiming that “Jesus is Lord” with great boldness and conviction. By contrast, many modern- day church members are melding with the world and treating church as little more than a back-up plan when they have nothing else to do. I assert the gathering together of believers for church should be a top level priority. Christ Jesus died for the church and will once again return for His church/bride.
In Christ there should be no shame but a consistent and unmistakable motivation to only settle for more of Him. Paul confessed “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.” (Rom. 1:16) Never settle for less. In Christ, only settle for more!
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor