By Kevin Cauley
A few years ago I bought a small VHS/TV combo from Wal-Mart so the kids could watch videos while traveling. Today we’ve pretty much converted to DVD, so we’ve been using that small television for the boys’ video games and cable TV from time to time. About a month ago this TV started doing something really strange. We would turn it on and then, after about five seconds, it would turn itself off. The rest of the TV seems to be working OK. The reception is good and display of picture and changing channels and etc. However, it simply refuses to stay on! So, it is useless to us as it sits in my bedroom waiting for me to decide whether I want to get it fixed or not.
I’ve been thinking about this television and how some Christians have the same problem. Consider that there are some Christians who turn on for a short period of time, but then they quickly turn off again until someone else comes along and pushes their button. I’m thinking about those Christians who may attend services only once in a while, get all fired up, and then go right back into a worldly pattern of living. Perhaps we can learn a few lessons from my on again/off again television.
First, it is extremely difficult to watch a television when it turns off every five seconds. Consider the difficulty for unbelievers to observe the pure Christian life in the on again/off again Christian. Unbelievers watch Christians and evaluate our behavior based upon our own standards of right and wrong. If I’m an on again/off again Christian, my behavior isn’t going to be consistent with those standards. My speech won’t be pure; my lifestyle may not be pure; perhaps my marriage will be on the rocks. People will see me as a hypocrite and not a true Christian. Christians must live as Christians. Paul says we walk by faith ( 2 Corinthians 5:7) and that faith comes by hearing the word of God ( Romans 10:17). We must know God’s word and live by it in order to live the life of faith so that we won’t be an on again/off again Christian.
Second, just as my television is in obvious need of repair, so is the on again/off again Christian. How does this Christian repair his life? He repents! Paul told all of those who he taught both Jews and Gentiles to turn to God and do works worthy of repentance ( Acts 26:20). Peter told Simon the sorcerer to repent when he sinned against God and pray for forgiveness ( Acts 8:22). Simon then asked Peter to pray for him. On again/off again Christians need to have this attitude as well. We can be forgiven of our sins if we ask. God is willing to forgive, if we repent ( 2 Peter 3:9) and He will forgive up to seventy times seven in one day if our repentance is from the heart ( Matthew 18:22). This is great incentive to live like a Christian every day.
Third, just as my on again/off again television is useless to me, so also, the on again/off again Christian is useless to Jesus. If he fails to repent he’ll be like the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:16. Jesus said because they were lukewarm, he would spew them out of his mouth and “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” ( Luke 9:62). Jesus’ message in Matthew 25 is that the on again/off again Christian will find himself with the unfaithful in the final judgment.
I have not resolved what to do with my television yet, but let’s resolve not to be on again/off again Christians. When God pushes our button to “on” he expects it to stay on and not to give up. If we turn off, let’s repent and turn back on quickly. We don’t want to disappoint Him.