They know the answers, they’ve prayed the prayer, they go to church, they live good lives, they may even witness (or they know that they should), they have grown to enjoy Christian gatherings, they see the emptiness of the world’s alternatives, they can explain the gospel, they look the part, they serve the church, they teach the children, they give to the collection, they make sacrificial decisions, they pray and they mean it and on it goes. So much Christianity wrapped up in one life, but yet, what is missing?
Christianity is not religion, nor is it ecclesiology, nor is it church participation, nor moral and ethical living, nor family tradition, nor schedule commitments, nor participation in a social gathering, nor any number of other things people seem to make it. Christianity is about being in relationship with Christ.
When I first met my future wife and then returned home to England I spoke about her to folks here. I remember one particular conversation. I was enthusing about the person who I thought I might actually get to marry. He was melancholic about the whole concept of relationships. I shared information about her. He shared complaints about the whole structure of dating and courting and marriage in his experience. I talked about her. He had yet more to say about the “institution” of romance.
I suppose you could observe that we were talking about the same thing. The difference was that I was captivated by a person, he was not.
I wonder how many in the church today are ticking the boxes and we all assume they are safely in the family of God, but actually they are not. One of the most overlooked verses in all of Scripture is in 1Cor.16 where Paul states that “if any man does not love Christ, he is accursed.” Perhaps we should be far slower to assume people are already born again based on the indicators of their confession, conduct and church participation. Perhaps we should be looking for that delight that comes only from someone who knows someone special. And perhaps in our preaching we should look for ways to shine the light of the Word beyond the peripheral issues, through the created “christian” structures that people hold to be their faith, and show the empty place where Christ should be captivating the heart and changing everything from the inside out.