One of the more challenging lessons of childhood (and adulthood for that matter) is learning when to be serious. My family saw this this past week while spending spring break at Disney World. One of the neatest attractions at Disney is the Hall of Presidents. While the audience is gathering, they basically tell you to be on your best behavior. No flash photography, no food or drink, etc. all in an attempt to “maintain the dignity of the office of president.” The culmination of the show introduces the audience to animatronic recreations of each of the former US Presidents. The show ends with the sitting president giving a brief speech.
The baby was very well behaved throughout most of the 22-minute presentation, drifting between playing with his grandparents and watching the film. He was even intrigued by the introduction of the presidents. But as the replica of President Obama began to speak, the baby, as clear as a bell, cried out, “Blah, blah, blah…!” Now, if you’ve been around me any length of time, you know that I would tend to agree with the baby’s sentiment, BUT, I wouldn’t have expressed it quite so vocally in a room full of 300 strangers. He’s got a long way to go in learning about when to be serious!
Paul reminds us in Philippians 2 about a need for being serious. He told the Philippians, to “…work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” Now, we know that Paul, of all people, is not encouraging a works based gospel. Paul understands that salvation is not something that we can work for. Nor is he encouraging us to respond to God in a timid, fearful sort of way. What he is trying to do is remind us of the seriousness of our walk with God.
It isn’t that God does not want us to have fun along the way. I’m certain that Jesus and his disciple had a good time as they wandered around Palestine. They were a bunch of blue collar guys hanging out together all the time. You’ll never convince me that they all walked around Palestine with glowing halos, never laughing, telling jokes, or even having the occasional “odoriferous emanation.” Jesus was not some Commander Spock figure, always trying to figure us out. But they were serious too. They were dealing with Satan and his demons. They were seeing sickness and disease. They were dealing with the darkest side of the human condition.
We can have great fun while walking with Jesus, but we never need to forget about the need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We need to take this thing seriously, because a lot is at stake. Paul says that our goal should be to be blameless and pure in a corrupt generation. Today, we live in a generation that is as corrupt as ever. The only way to be blameless and pure is, by God’s grace, to take this journey seriously, with great fear and trembling.
I can remember a time not too far away that I didn’t take the journey very seriously. I thought I was having fun, but I was doing so at the expense of my credibility. I was not living a blameless and pure life. And the result was obvious – I looked more like the corrupt generation that I was supposed to be set apart from. All of us have experiences like that. Let us never revisit them. Let’s have a grand time together, but let us do so with the attitude of Christ Jesus. As much as we are tempted to, now is definitely not the time to yell out, “Blah, blah, blah” as it pertains to our walk with Jesus. Let’s get serious!
With Fear and Trembling,