One of the reasons I didn’t date Daryl when he asked the first time was that he was just so serious. About everything.
“I want to be an evangelist,” he told me at our first lunch together, our Greek language study group huddled around a cafeteria table on a chilly September day.
“Huh,” I said, turning away so he wouldn’t see me roll my eyes. I had no patience for overly earnest Christians. The last thing I wanted to do was date the next Billy Graham. No offense to Mr. Graham – he’s an incredibly faithful man of God – I just didn’t want to go to dinner and a movie with him. I couldn’t picture him having fun.
As our years of college wore on, Daryl learned how to loosen up and have fun. He played a lot of ping pong and went on a lot of late-night burrito runs. Sometimes I joined him. Beyond that, I learned that reading thick theology books and memorizing Greek verb declensions actually was fun for him. (Weirdo.)
In those same four years, I learned how to be more serious. That life wasn’t all rock climbing trips and bestselling novels (though it needed its share of those things, too). I pressed into my studies, growing in my knowledge of English literature, ancient languages, public speaking, and the church.
A few years in, we met in the middle. These days I keep him fun and he helps me to remember that some things are serious. One of the most serious of all is God himself.
In an Advent sermon entitled “Learning to Die,” Bonhoeffer talks about this sacred seriousness:
Do not fear the coming day, do not fear other people, do not fear power and might, even if they are able to deprive you of property and life; do not fear the great ones of this world; do not even fear yourselves; do not fear sin. All this fear will be the death of you. You are free from all this fear; it isn’t there for you. But fear God and God alone; for God has power over the powers of this world; the whole world must fear God—God has power to give us life or to destroy us; everything else is a game—only God is in earnest, entirely in earnest. Fear God’s earnestness—and give God the glory.
We play at many things in life, and we should. There are adventures to be had, and we can’t take ourselves too seriously.
But when we only play at our spirituality–treating God as one more option in an endless salad bar of choice and decision, relegating our devotional lives to times that are easy and convenient, loving our neighbors when it suits us or looks good on social media, addressing injustice when we have the time and it doesn’t ruffle too many feathers? Then our very souls are in danger, friends.
Paul puts it this way in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.
Let us not allow the distractions of the day to turn our hands from the plow, our feet from the path, our minds from the truth.
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Turns out a little seriousness, when it comes to the sacred, is a really good thing.