I want to pick a fight… All of you who call yourselves Christians, but don’t follow Christ, this is for you. This is for all of you who say you believe in God, but live like He doesn’t exist.
You’ll notice something about my writing. I don’t refer to ‘Christians’ very often. The label is good, but the people who identify with the label are, too often times, Christians in surveys only. Or Christians in theory only. Or Christians because I believe in God only. Or Christians because that’s how I grew up only.
There’s a growing chasm (in terms of numbers) in our culture today between the ‘nones’ (those who identify with no religion) and those who identify as a Christian. More and more people are dropping the act and referring to themselves as what they really are – not following Jesus at all.
The State of Nominal Christianity
Nominal Christians like to talk about their belief in God, but they rarely talk about following Christ. You know why? Because believing in something is safe. Believing in God can mean any number of things. And they act like mere belief is some commendable thing. Really? You acknowledge there is a God. Good. Why do you live like there is no God?
If you truly believed that the Creator-God exists and is all-powerful, all-present, transcendent, and holy then why in the world would you live a single day without honoring Him with your life? Why in the world would you ignore the greatest act He has done since creating humanity in sending Jesus?
Nominal Christianity likes Jesus as the One coming to save, but they don’t like Jesus as the One calling them to take up their cross. They like their life too much. They’re lives scream of the rich young ruler who walked away from Jesus sad because he had a lot of great stuff that he didn’t want to let go of to follow Jesus. They’re okay with reading the Bible until they read something that hurts a little. They like the way they think and they arrogantly believe that the Word of God is only for those super-religious people.
Nominal Christianity believes in God because they want to avoid hell. They’re not in it for a relationship with their Father in Heaven, they merely want a pass to heaven. This is why they refuse to invest any time or energy into their relationship with God – they simply see it as a transaction. I believe in you, you save me from hell. Now we’re done, right?
Jesus and the Nominal
Jesus was always running into issues with a group of religious people called, the Pharisees. They created all kinds of rules around their faith. Instead of following what their Scriptures actually taught, they made up their own stuff and taught that.
Jesus called them out with Scripture and said this:
7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15)
You say you are all about God, yet you worship me in vain. You teach a bunch of stuff from men as if it is from God.
My fear is that nominal Christianity isn’t even trying to worship God in any way. The Pharisees tried and failed. Nominal Christians honor God with their lips (or maybe just their mental assent), yet don’t worship Him at all.
Count the Cost
Jesus had moment after moment where he would have a large crowd following Him and then He would turn to them and challenge them to an actual commitment.
There are a lot of people who are in the crowd, watching Jesus do some cool miracles, but Jesus sees right through their facade. He challenges them:
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14)
You want to follow me? There’s a big cost. Are you willing to follow now?
Are You a Nominal Christian?
If you are, you must fall to your knees and repent. You must worship your God with your
whole being, not just your belief. He demands that we come to Him with everything we are.
Jesus never set out to be your Savior only. He set out to be your Lord and Savior. There’s a massive difference and I contend that you can’t have one without the other.
This isn’t about doing good things in order to find favor with God. This is about laying your whole life at the feet of Jesus in worship, repentance, and true faith. Neither you nor I can do anything to find favor with God.
What we can do is respond to God being God. What we can do is respond to what God has done for us.
Nominal Christian, please stop aligning yourself with demons.
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19)
Fall to Jesus feet. Worship Him. Serve Him. Love Him.
Enough with the act.