Slightly edited from 2009.
God doesn’t do fractions. Our heavenly Father deals only with whole numbers. This brings us great joy because most of us hate fractions from our school days studying mathematics. This should bring us great joy as Christians knowing God deals with us in terms of all or nothing, not halves, quarters, or other denominators.
Jesus tells the multitudes after He casts a demon out of a mute man with a demon every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. Jesus says this in response to those in the multitudes who said in response to casting out the demon He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons. Why would the ruler of the demons cast out one of his own? It doesn’t make sense to say such a thing. But when has any of Christ’s detractors made sense?
This time they might have a point. When people outside the kingdom of heaven peer into the things of God and the people of God they sometimes see a terrible sight. They see a phenomenon that might be called “halfway Christians”. You and I may know a few “halfway Christians”. These people say they believe in God, yet the things they say and do testify that the opposite is true. “Halfway Christians” put on a wonderful show. They say and do Christian things before their neighbor. They know Bible verses quite well. They go to church. Nevertheless, God sees into their heart of hearts and knows that what they do is not from a heart centered in God’s forgiveness. Their heart is centered elsewhere.
Perhaps a “halfway Christian” heart is centered on works-righteousness. They think, “The more I do for God, the more He will see that I am working hard for Him and deserve a spot in heaven”. Such thinking mocks God’s righteousness in Jesus Christ. It makes the preaching of the cross and the resurrection a preaching of foolishness; an example of what we should do rather than what Jesus does for us.
Perhaps a “halfway Christian” sees what a Christian believes or how a Christian lives and calls their doctrine and life “fanaticism”. They believe that a person must accommodate his or herself to the times; let the world set the agenda. It is wise and prudent to keep silent and give in a bit rather than speak out against sin in the public square. After all, it is better to make friends than enemies and plunge oneself into a battle of wills. It is better to take the middle road. Go to church, receive Holy Communion, but keep one’s faith to oneself rather than make trouble, lose friends, and influence people away from the Christian faith rather than toward the Christian faith.
Christians confess the Truth of God’s Word without being afraid because His Word is Truth. Peter and the other apostles confessed before the council in Jerusalem, we ought to obey God rather than men. Peter’s words should be our words too. However, we fear the power of darkness more than the power of light. Therefore, we keep quiet and mind our own business for fear of being called “extremists” or “unloving”.
God dealing with us in fractions is far more unloving than confessing the faith and not being afraid. It would be as if our Lord dying for only 50 percent of Christians, or 25 percent, or even seven percent. If Jesus died and rose again for the sins of one percent of those who believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God, then our Lord’s work for us is meaningless. We would be riddled with doubt, wondering if we qualify for eternal life or if we will be on the outside looking in on Judgment Day.
Satan is the one who tries to make us “halfway Christians”. He loves it when we commit part of our lives to Christ and part of our lives to serving mammon. Jesus says you cannot serve God and mammon. Our allegiance must be for one or the other.
Give up being a halfway Christian not merely for Lent, but for the rest of your earthly life. Jesus didn’t die for some. He died for the sins of the whole world. He died for your sins and for my sins. Jesus is the stronger man who overtakes the strong man, ripping off all the strong man’s armor and divides his spoils.
Though we probably cried when we came out of our mother’s womb, we enter the womb of the Church mute. We cannot speak the praises of God because we do not know Who God is or what God does for us. Our tongues are loosed, our blind eyes made to see, and our ears opened to hear, see, and speak the greatness of the Lord. The finger of God that gave life to everything in the earth; the same finger that brought plagues to the unbelieving Egyptians, touches you in water and the Word of God through Baptism. The finger of God by the power of the Holy Spirit points you to font, pulpit, and altar, the sure and certain places where Jesus Christ promises to deliver the benefits of His death and resurrection: forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.
Where we experience conflict, assault, opposition, we know the kingdom of God is functioning effectively; we know through His Word Christ is effecting great things. When Satan attacks and terrifies us right before death with pictures and terrors of hell, then hear and believe the Gospel that Christ has relieved Satan of his might and has bound the mighty one. Then with our last breath directed towards Christ, we will give the kingdom of darkness one final shove and in eternity never again hear a sound coming from this hellish kingdom. There are no ties, no partial scores in the Kingdom of heaven. God deals with us in whole numbers. Those outside of Christ have nothing but eternal torment. Those with Christ have everything they need: eternal joy and eternal peace with God in His heavenly kingdom swept clean of sin and death forever.