In 1952, the United States suffered the worst polio outbreak in its history. Some 58,000 cases were reported that year, resulting in over 3000 deaths. Approximately 21,000 others were left with some form of paralysis, most of them children. Up until that time, polio was the most dreaded and feared disease in the world. It struck without warning and it was impossible to tell who was susceptible to the disease and who wasn’t. But between 1957 and 1962, research physicians Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin developed vaccines that all but eradicated the disease.
As most of us learned in high school science class, a vaccine works by introducing a killed or weakened virus into our bloodstream which in turn, stimulates our immune system to produce the antibodies that are needed to target and destroy the real virus should we be exposed to it.
In simple terms, inoculation introduces just a little bit of a disease into our bodies so that our immune systems can build up resistance to that disease. That works fine when it comes to preventing disease, but when it comes to our faith in Christ, it’s an entirely different matter. It takes more than just a little bit of Jesus on Sunday morning to help us build up resistance to the sin and temptation and evil that are in the world. Yet there are people in the church who believe that a little bit of Jesus is all they need.
I know what someone will say; that a little bit of Jesus is better than none at all. That might be true when introducing a lost person to Christ because sometimes it takes as little as one Bible verse or one Christian sharing a sixty second testimony for someone to led to the faith. But I’m not talking about lost people. I’m talking about those who have professed their faith in Christ; maybe they’ve been members of a church for years, yet they believe that all they need to do is just show up on Sunday morning and show some passing interest in what the pastor is saying and call it good for the rest of the week. Because they only have a little bit of Jesus, they seldom share their faith, if at all. Because they only have a little bit of Jesus, they only read the Bible occasionally, if they read it at all. Because they only have a little bit of Jesus, it’s hard to see the joy of Christ in their hearts and even if you look closely, it’s hard to distinguish them from the rest of the world.
Just so we’re clear and so no one takes offense, I’m not talking about people whose work schedules prevent them from being more involved in the church. I realize there are people, myself included, who would love to do more to serve God in the church but can’t because of their hours or the demands of their jobs. We all have to make a living. No, the people I’m referring to are the ones who legitimately believe that all they need is just a little bit of Jesus on Sunday morning to get them through this life. Unfortunately for them, that’s contrary to what the Bible teaches us.
When Jesus told the rich young man to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor and then follow Him, He was not asking for half-hearted commitment. Likewise, when he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.“, He wasn’t suggesting that we only need to follow Him for an hour or two every Sunday. We’re not to take our commitment to following Christ lightly.
While introducing a little bit of disease into our bodies prevents us from contracting a virus, limiting ourselves to a little bit of Jesus also prevents a few things. It prevents us from growing in our faith. It prevents us from knowing God in accordance with His desires. It can prevent us from knowing His plan for our lives. It prevents us from building a proper foundation for our lives and it prevents us from serving God as He has called us to do. And in the end, it will prevent us from receiving the reward that God has promised to those who serve Him faithfully here on earth. To paraphrase what Paul wrote in his first letter to the church at Corinth, someone who only has a little bit of Jesus might be saved, but only as one escaping the flames. And what a shame that would be; to look back on our lives and know that we could have had more than just a little bit of Jesus. But do you know what would be even worse than losing out on any potential reward in Heaven because we were willing to settle for only a little bit of Jesus? It’s settling for a little bit of Jesus with the knowledge that Jesus didn’t limit what He gave us. When He died on the cross, Jesus didn’t give a little. He gave us His all. He gave His very life.
What a shame it would be, then, to look back and see that we could have had so much more, but settled for so little.