Saturday, March 22, 2014


It's fairly common for a young alumnus to tell me that while he's going to college he's also holding down a part-time job to help pay for tuition. Virtually every reader of this blog will be better informed than I am about the pros and cons of part time jobs, so you should bring your own knowledge to this discussion.

What are some reasons why people take part time jobs? Maybe they already have a major life commitment that prevents them from working full time; or they simply want to leave themselves free to do other things besides work. Of course another possibility is that they can't fnd any full time employment so they have to settle for a part time job while they keep looking.


Here's a question: Is your Christian life a part time job or is it full time? I've actually come across this question twice in the past few weeks, so I thought I'd pose it in this post.

Some Christians will say that although they are Christians they try not to overdo it. You know, maybe go to church from time to time, maybe even say an occasional prayer, and try to be a good person. Nothing fanatical. (By the way, the word "fanatic" comes from the Latin word fanum, meaning a temple. A fanaticus spends all of his or her time at the temple, an over-the-top religious kook.)

There certainly are some people who are obsessed with religous thoughts, observances and laws to the point that they can't talk about anything else. Is this, then, what we mean by "full time Christians?" Certainly not - that would give the rest of us the excuse of saying "No, I want to avoid unhealthy extremes, so I guess I'll settle for a nice middle of the road part time commitment."

Let me pose the question in a different way: Is Jesus calling me to follow Him part time or full time? Woops! Now I'm stuck. I know darn well that Jesus is not interested in part-timers. He specifically speaks about rejecting "lukewarm" followers or people who try to serve both God and money.

Being a part time Christian, like any other part time job, has its advantages of course. I don't have to be constantly on the job -- I have lots of time off for doing other things. If I want to insult or get revenge on someone for example, I can do that on my own time -- it doesn't interfere with my part time Christian commitment. My day is filled with work in the office and chasing around doing errands ans so on; this is all on my own time, and has nothing to do with my being (or not being) a Christian. My part time Christian commitment involves maybe an hour on Sunday mornings, or giving to charity, and sometimes saying a prayer or two. Does this really sound like what the Lord is asking of me in the Gospel? No, I'm afraid not.

During Lent the Church talks a lot about conversion and being "transformed." This doesn't sound to me like the offer of  part time work. My baptismal commitment requires a full time job response. All of my duties as a spouse or parent or employee, all of my activities from watching television to cooking supper, all of my relationships. All of these come under my Christian commitment. All of them.

From this point of view, then, sin means taking time off from my full time Christian commitment to do something very different, something contrary and harmful to that commitment.


We all know that an employer likes hiring part-timers because he doesn't have to offer them any benefits. It's the same with our Christian commitment, isn't it? Part-time Christians don't get the full package of benefits that Jesus promises to his followers. Full-time commitment to the gospel is what results in all those gifts that the New Testament promises: Charity, joy, peace, and so on. If you're a part timer then you're not signing up for "that peace that passes all understanding," or "that joy thay no one can take from you."

So, if you feel that you haven't been getting the full rewards promised to Jesus' followers, you might want to check your employment startus. Are you part time or full time?

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