If I told you that I knew a fellow who was a “hardcore” Christian, I wonder what sort of image that would conjure up in your mind? Would you think that this individual was particularly zealous for evangelistic enterprises? Perhaps that he was in the ministry “full-time”. Maybe you would think that he was a missionary on a foreign field, or that he fasted regularly and prayed for hours at a time.
What if I told you that my hardcore Christian friend was an electrician who has been married for twelve years, is in the process of raising three children, and that the most impressive thing about his Christian faith after his genuine affection for Christ is that he loves his wife, laughs with his children, and enjoys taking them to local football games? This hardcore Christian likes to watch television with his kids. They take vacations together, and they have a genuine affection for one another. This friend of mine is an anchor to his family. He is a faithful to his wife; he is diligent at his job; he encourages and reproves his children with love and wisdom.
I’m afraid that we do not see this type of thing as hardcore Christianity. I admit it; I am not who I ought to be, and neither are you. But my biggest worry is not that I am not giving enough money to missions, or telling enough people about Jesus, or being a good enough pastor at church. I am convinced that constantly worrying about not being ‘hardcore’ enough in that way is a perfect way to be a lousy Christian. Becoming a Christian should not be the first step towards being miserable that you are a lousy Christian. It ought to be the first step towards actually enjoying life.
The Bible presents many truths that are simply devastating. All men are corrupt; people are dying and going to hell; we have an obligation to take the gospel to people who will perish without it. It is only natural, then, to wonder how it is that we can allow ourselves to enjoy things like television, video games, and detective novels without feeling like we are callous individuals. It furthers stirs our conscience to agony when our favorite preachers lambast us for “Entertaining Ourselves to Death.” We deserve it sometimes, but I confess that I don’t want to be John Piper. I want to be like my friend the electrician.
I know that my friends could find a better pastor, and I know I could be a better evangelist. But when I go home tonight, I go home to a little boy and a little girl who only have one dad. My wife has only one husband. This is where I have to make it count. My kids don’t understand my burdens and my failures, but they understand my smile and my hug. And for my smile and my hug to be genuine, I rejoice in this: I have been saved by grace through faith; Jesus requires nothing of me, and nothing delights him more than my deepest affections for Him and for my little family. I show Jesus my gratitude by loving my family, hardcore, and so I watch TV with them, and play games with them, and pray with them, and enjoy life with them. Think about doing these things before you sell your house to help missionaries in Trinidad.