Dec 142017 11 Responses

Your Christianity Isn’t Christian

“I have faith.” Those are the commonly spoken words of good people living good lives proclaiming a genuine feeling of connection with God. They can tell of a past experience of conversion. They speak in meaningful terms regarding experience of God’s presence.

But there’s a problem.

On any given Sunday, they aren’t worshipping with other believers.

  • They don’t submit to the spiritual leadership of others.
  • Their lives are not structured around living and worshipping with like-minded people regarding faith.
  • They don’t sacrificially give of their time, money, or resources within a local context of believers.

They may read their Bible. They pray. They are able to answer many questions correctly.

Ask them and they say they are Christians. But there is a problem–their Christianity isn’t Christian.

There is a difference between having faith in our faith compared to having faith in Jesus. The latter is Christianity; the former is not.

Trusting ourselves, believing in our faith, finding hope that we believe, feels like true Christianity. It carries the same language and might even lead to a similar lifestyle. But at its heart, it is radically different. (See: How to Come Back to Faith)

Christianity is built on Jesus. Christians believe that every human being is sinfully wicked and in desperate need of God’s rescue. We have a radical distrust in ourselves, how easily our hearts can be deceived, and how prone to rebellion we are. Because of this, a Christian places his hope in Jesus. His actions define our lives. His work on the Cross is the source of our hope. A Christian believes everything depends on Jesus and nothing on us.

If my hope is in me, I’m hopeless.

But many modern believers have exchanged true faith for a pseudo-faith which resembles Christianity but is actually a dangerous counterfeit. Instead of trusting Jesus, they trust themselves. Instead of following the teachings of Jesus, they are attempting to create their own way.

Nowhere is this more evident than in a lackadaisical relationship with the local church. Jesus instituted the church. While that includes every believer who has ever or will ever live, it expresses itself in meaningful ways on a local level. Believers live their lives connected to other believers where they serve, love, worship, pray, and grow together. I don’t understand why this is God’s plan. And while I see many flaws with every church I’ve ever been associated with, it cannot be denied that participation in local church is an integral aspect of someone who is following the way of Jesus.

It’s possible to be part of a local church and not be a believer. Many are often shocked when I tell them that it’s likely that 30% of the people who attend corporate worship services at the church I pastor may not be Christians. Many are trying to figure faith out. Some are simply going through the motions. Presence in a local church doesn’t guarantee saving faith, but absence from a local church greatly casts doubt on the sincerity of one’s belief.

Jesus created the church. He gave his commands to churches. There is no evidence that living life in submission to others is optional for a Christian. A Christian is involved in the local church.

“I have faith,” someone says. But is that faith built on Jesus? Is it aligned with his teachings? If not, you might have faith, but it’s not Christian faith. (See: Spiritual Check-up–10 Questions for a New Year)

“My faith is personal,” someone else says. Good. Faith should be a deeply personal value. Yet Jesus shows us that personal faith also has very public consequences and community responsibilities. If your faith is solely personal, it might be faith, but it’s not Christian faith.

“I hear from God better in nature,” another person says. Wonderful. God’s creation is a powerful way in which He reminds us of his existence and our need. Yet nature existed before the church, but God created the church anyway. Church involvement is not simply about feeling God’s presence, it’s also about serving, loving, and learning from others. It’s about worshipping God and giving a testimony to the world. If you hear God in nature, you should spend a good amount of time in nature, but do so around active involvement in a local church.

“I watch online,” some say. Technology is great. Podcast, Facebook live, and video streams are a great way to learn, grow, and stay connected when we aren’t able to gather with a church family. However, church is far more than a sermon and being part of a church requires physical presence. Technology should aide our connection with a local church instead of creating more physical distance between us and others.

Faith is not enough. Humanity’s plight is not a minor blemish which a little bit of personal faith can take care of. Our need is so great that we are totally dependent on Jesus for any chance of salvation. Having received His grace, we respond by living in accordance to His Word. That Word teaches us about the local church.

Have faith in Jesus. He’s a lot stronger than your faith.

 

11 Responses to Your Christianity Isn’t Christian
  1. […] What’s dangerous is that they never recognize the connection between involvement in church and... kevinathompson.com/why-men-lose-faith
  2. […] This is universally true. We can’t opt out of this process. Hard work and determination cannot... https://www.kevinathompson.com/what-is-shaping-you

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