Christianity 201

June 29, 2019

Do “Sunday Christians” Actually Exist?

Six months ago we introduced you to Rebecca LuElla Miller, a freelance writer and editor who has appeared in many different publications. Her site is, A Christian Worldview of Fiction. Click the header below to read at source.

Sunday Christians

Sunday Christians may not be Christians. Only God knows. A couple of the pastors I listen to on the radio when I’m doing dishes or the like, repeatedly challenge their congregation—and by extension, those of us listening to the broadcast—to examine our hearts to see if we are of the faith, because it’s too, too easy to sit Sunday after Sunday in a church service and not actually be saved.

But how is that possible? someone may ask.

One way is to sit under the instruction of false teachers who “tickle our ears.” Of course, no one forces us to choose false teachers. This is something we do because we like it that way: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,” (2 Tim. 4:3)

In other words, these false teachers are giving people what they want to hear, but it’s not the gospel.

Another way people calling themselves Christians may not actually be Christians, is if they see their “religious activity” as their ticket to heaven. In other words, going to church is just one activity on a list that they can check off and add to the “good deeds” side of the ledger. In their mistaken way of thinking, as long as the good outweighs the bad, they can bank on heaven for their future home. It’s sort of like depositing money in your savings account so when it comes time to buy a new house, you have a sufficient down payment.

Sadly, for these folk, salvation doesn’t work that way.

There’s a third category, and of course, there well may be Christians in this group. Only God knows their hearts. These are people who come to church, listen, say they believe, and then go away and live their lives as if they are just like everyone else. In other words, their Christianity does not inform their daily lives—what they say, how they work, what they do on their free time—none of it.

Some actually think this is a good thing. The more they can blend in with society, the better they think it is. They don’t want to look too radical, too focused on “just Christianity.” They want the empirical data to govern their every-day lives and the Bible to govern their spiritual lives—never the twain should meet.

What I don’t see or understand is how this approach fits in with the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He told us that we who would follow Him should take up our crosses daily. We are to die to self, and we are to live for Christ. This approach requires a total reordering of our lives, our priorities, our purposes. Can a person be a Christian without such a renewed approach to life?

Maybe. God only knows. I mean, none of us enters the Christian life as fully formed, mature believers with all the right priorities. We talk about growing in our faith because we do need to develop from little seedlings into more sturdy plants, on our way to fully developed trees that will withstand the storms of life. We simply don’t start there once we acknowledge our need for a Savior and turn to Jesus for our redemption.

The point is, can a person be saved and still look like pretty much everyone else? Maybe. Maybe the Holy Spirit hasn’t convicted them about things others see in their lives. They might think there’s nothing wrong with porn, for example, because the world tells them nothing is wrong with porn. But at some point the Holy Spirit will convict a true believer and they will deal with that sin in their lives.

We all face this sort of roller coaster experience in our Christian lives. We repent and then find ourselves needing to repent all over again. To repent means to turn from, but our turning too often seems like a U-turn. We can’t seem to continue on the path of righteousness that God would have us walk. We want to. We pray to. And we see our baby steps taking us along the way more and more, but not all at once. Never all at once.

So who’s to say that another person is a believer or not?

Of course if they say they’re not, they’ve answered the question for us. If they think they are, but are sitting under false teaching, that’s pretty easy to see they have deluded themselves. Same with those who think doing religious duty is the same as following Christ.

Truly, becoming a Christian requires us to declare who Jesus is, what He’s done, why we need Him.

Who is He? Jesus is God’s Son who died for the world, to pay they penalty for our sins which we have no way of paying for on ourselves. He is Lord—not only in a future sense when every knee will bow to Him, but now, in my heart.

What has He done? He’s stepped in to do what we could not do for ourselves. He’s become the Mediator between God and humanity. He’s made it possible for humans to see God and to know Him and to enter into a relationship with Him.

Why do I need Him? Because I’m a sinner and have no way to reach God on my own. I’m mired in the world system, entangled by my own evil desires. I need Jesus to rescue me from the “dominion of darkness.”

In the end, I don’t want to go my own way any more. But sometimes I do. I wish it weren’t true, but that’s the reality Paul described in Romans 7—“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want” (v. 19).

So, do Sunday Christians exist or are they all pretend Christians who don’t exhibit a sold-out lifestyle?

I have no doubt that some are saved and some are not. God knows who’s who. My responsibility is to examine my own life, to lay it before God, and ask Him where He wants me to grow in order to become conformed to the image of His Son. I really have no way of doing that for anyone else.

February 10, 2012

Comfort Praying

Today’s thoughts were jointly posted in abridged form at Thinking Out Loud under the title,

Praying Out of Habit, Not Belief

I’m currently 50 pages into Called to Controversy, a biography of Moishe Rosen, the founder of a high profile U.S.-based ministry to those of Jewish background or ancestry.* I’ll review the book in detail later on, but I was struck by a story of an interaction between Moise and his father, Ben.

Busy as he was, Ben [Moishe’s father] set aside an hour or so each evening to teach his sons his philosophy of life. Moishe recalled this as, “a combination of the Jewish sense of culture and achievement and his own brand of homey diligence.” He said, “Dad periodically made sure we could recite our Hebrew prayers and he stressed business principles that, had we written them down, would have made a valuable course in any business school. He taught us how to deal with people, how to determine the value of an item, and how to buy and sell.”

Regarding the prayers, Ben never hid the fact that he did not think much of religion in general. Moishe knew that if his father believed in God at all, it was not the God of the Jewish religion. At one point he asked, “Dad, why do we say these prayers if you don’t believe God is listening?”

“Sonny boy;” his father replied, “We say the pledge of allegiance to the flag because we are Americans. I don’t think the flag can hear us, do you? We say the prayers because we are Jews. If we don’t do these things, how else will people know we are Jews?”

And so Moishe learned from his father that the Jewish religion, though not necessarily to be believed in, was to be respected and practiced because it was part of what made people to be Jews.

(pp. 20-21)

This got me wondering if there are those within the fold of Christianity whose attendance at worship, or the recitation of perfunctory (because the children are watching) prayers is no different.

  • “Of course we go to Church on Sunday. How else will people know we are Christians?”
  • “Your great grandparents helped build that church, we will always have a part in it.”
  • “No, I’m not sure God is listening to my prayer, but hey, I say the Pledge of Allegiance don’t I?”
  • “Of course we’re Christian. Our family has always been Christians. But that identifies us socially and culturally, it doesn’t mean we believe the Bible.”

There’s probably more of this posturing going on in local churches than anyone of us would like to believe or care to admit. But those caught up in this may not be intending outright deception. They are probably simply enjoying what I would call “comfort” praying and “comfort” church attending and “comfort” Christian identifying. It feels good. It fits like an old, comfortable shoe. But it lacks authenticity.

II Timothy 3:5 (NLT) They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

The full context of the verse is that this trend increases as “the last days” get closer. But the passage isn’t about predicting a trend.  Although prophetic in nature, the passage is a warning! Why “steer clear” (The Message translation) of such people?

The Message – I Tim 3:6-9These are the kind of people who smooth-talk themselves into the homes of unstable and needy women and take advantage of them; women who, depressed by their sinfulness, take up with every new religious fad that calls itself “truth.” They get exploited every time and never really learn.

In other words, the passage seems to be saying that for anyone But that’s the opposite of how we view things.

We view the people who are nominal Christians or apostate Christians or social Christians as somewhat innocuous; non-threatening. To be sure they need to be restored to the faith, but their presence — while it weakens a local church overall — isn’t exactly detrimental. They are simply disappointing to the rest of the local church congregation, right?

But the Bible calls such people dangerous.