The casualisation of our society has become a serious concern. If this casualisation merely concerned fashion, you have every right to think of me as a pathetic stick in the mud. But right now we are facing some extremely serious challenges and it's time for us to get serious!
The opposite of 'serious' I will call 'casual'. And when I use the word 'casual' I am using it as a catch-all word for, informal, joking, non-urgent, trivial. Of course, being casual is appropriate for the right ocassion. F.W. Boreham tells the story of his young girls asking him each weeknight whether it was going to be "slippers or shoes tonight?" If it was a "slippers night" his girls knew that their daddy would be home and available for them to sit on his knees in front of the fire and listen to him tell them stories. But that's not the only thing opposite to serious. Opposed to 'serious' are attitudes beyond being merely casual. These attitudes begin to venture into potentially life-threatening areas. When a parachutist doesn't take the need to check his parachute seriously before a jump, or when a motorcyclist doesn't think seriously about overtaking a truck around a bend, or when a Christian doesn't take his spiritual health seriously - the results can be anything but casual !
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Second Timothy 4:5
Serious doesn't have to mean dull, boring, bland. But here's the problem with saying that: I have to say it because our culture has been so casualised! That is, when you undertaking serious activities it maybe dull, boring or bland. Police doing night after night of surveillance is 99% dull, boring, bland - but it has meant that many heinous acts of criminal violence have been averted and countless numbers of people's lives have been spared. It is a statement of our youthified and casualised society that betrays our at times rampant immaturity that wants everything to be fun, exciting, and edgy. Fun has its place for those who take life seriously but it is not given the status of an idol to be conferred with before a course of action is taken. This must sound like Martian to those who find life itself so boring that they have to jump off a cliff with either a rubber rope attached to their ankles or a suit of wings zipped over their bodies in the pursuit of finding even greater fun and exciting thrills to fuel their need to be distracted from the serious matters of life. It takes a serious person to commit to one other person for the rest of their lives with a public vow to remain committed "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, till we are parted by death". It takes a serious person to accept that sexual fidelity to that person they have committed their heart and soul to also includes their body and that such an act of intimacy is required to maintain sacred union, express the highest act of physical surrender to another person, and to produce the fruit of that union and love by conceiving new life together. Marriage is serious.
But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he's talking about
First Timothy 3:2 THE MESSAGE
To be casual when seriousness is called for is to be flippant. To be flippant with your spiritual health is to risk peril - but not just for yourself but those vulnerable ones looking on.
¶ "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea."
Too many times as a pastor I have seen a parent not take their spiritual responsibilities seriously enough. When this happens there is an almost predictable peril that creeps in. Such other lesser, but none the less still, serious matters are also treated flippantly. They begin to neglect their spouse and thereby cease taking their marriage vows seriously enough. They begin to neglect coming to the house of God together as a family seriously enough (note Hebrews 10:25) and instead thereby teach their children that God isn't really that important and His Word shouldn't be taken so seriously (Deut. 6:7; 11:19). They begin to compromise in ways that causes them to turn to self-made idols for comfort and to calm their nerves and thereby negate their witness to their neighbours and broadcast to the world that everything they had previously told them about God being their Saviour and Lord was just a joke (2Cor. 3:2; 2Tim. 4:2).
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
First Peter 5:8
It's impossible not to be deeply moved at the moment by the plight of our brothers and sisters suffering serious attacks from ISIL ("IS", "ISIS"). It's bewildering to hear many of our political leaders displaying their ignorance about the religious fervour of those perpetrating these acts of evil as if their murderous rampage against Christians had nothing to do with their religion. But when I consider the extreme seriousness of these matters, I am disturbed to the core of my soul at the lack of required seriousness for those who claim that their lives have been bought by our Lord Christ Jesus. I'm disturbed that our Western Christianity is so comfortable, so easy, so casual, so compromised, that God in His mercy might choose a serious solution as we nearly saw in Sydney this week! As a student of Church History, I know the predictable pattern of God's response to a Church gone casual. And I for one take that history seriously!