Let’s Talk Spiritual
One thing I love to do is to talk with other people about spiritual matters. I love to talk about the kingdom of God, the grace that comes with salvation, the purpose of the church… I love it all! One thing that I don’t like is when I hear things that grossly misrepresent Christianity. I’m not talking about people who say something off kilter in searching for understanding. I’m talking about things like the pastor that I heard on the radio acknowledging non-practicing Christianity. I said out loud to myself “What the heck!? What’s a non-practicing Christian?”
Christianity, by design, disallows for any possibility of a non-practicing version of itself. Biblically speaking, a Christian is a follower of Christ. Can a person follow Christ without actually following? The basis of Christianity is love. It’s our response in love, faith and devotion to the Love that the Father has for us. There is no form of Christianity that is void of receiving His love and giving ours. A non-practicing Christian would have to be a person that refuses the love of the Father and subsequently stops loving Him, and that would simply be a non-Christian, not a non-practicing Christian. Love is the foundation and the identifier of Christianity. Where the love relationship between the Father and the believer is healthy, there is Christianity. Christianity stops when love stops. There is no non-practicing love. It either is, or it isn’t. One cannot say “I live a life that is founded in love and I also refuse love” A person who identifies as a non-practicing Christian is saying “I love Jesus, I just choose not to love Him.”
Consider this: What does Jesus say about those who love Him? He says that we must love the Lord our God with all of our heart, all of our strength & all of our mind (luke 10:27). He says that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Is it possible for a person to love in this manner unintentionally? Why would a person who claims non-practicing status live to this level of devotion while still claiming non-practicing status? This does not make sense and cannot exist in the reality of biblical truth.
After His resurrection, Jesus urged Peter to feed His sheep based on Peter’s confession of love for Him. Knowing that Jesus asked and expected this of Peter, and that the passage that we refer to as the ‘Great Commission’ includes the message “Go… make disciples…teaching them to observe all that I’ve commanded you…” (Matt 28: 19-20) it is simply impossible to love Jesus the way that He desires & defines love without keeping His commandments. To Him, love is incomplete without the action, or practice that he desires from us. My thought is that people who consider themselves to be non-practicing are simply more comfortable with that terminology than with saying that they do not love Jesus. If that is you, please do not be fooled. You can be sure that Jesus isn’t. Where there is no practice, there is no love. If we love Him we’ll put His commands into regular practice. If we don’t love Him, we won’t.
There was a mountain stream near Laodicea that was known for the temperature of its water. The stream ran very cold, supplying refreshing water to drink and to cool off in, in the heat of the day. There was also a natural hot spring close by, where hot water bubbled out of the earth. The water was rich in minerals and the spring was a very popular place to go to soak and relax in the water. There was great benefit with both the hot and cold water, but if one was going to draw water from either location to take home, the water would be lukewarm by the time it reached its destination. Though the water that was provided had come from very beneficial sources and were both valuable in their intended function, both became useless and even repulsive outside of their element. In the account of the church at Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3, Jesus refers to the cold stream and the hot spring in an analogy that the Laodiceans all understood very well. He then referred to their congregation as that repulsive, lukewarm water. Why did He do that? He called them out because most believers there were non-practicing Christians, living uncommitted lives. They had no zeal for God or godliness, but they wanted the benefits that came with their affiliation with the church. Jesus pronounced judgement against them. When He called them “lukewarm, He told them that He would spew them from His mouth. I think another way He could have said it is ”your apathy makes me want to vomit.” But, Jesus, in His boundless love, also tells them that He is bringing correction to them because He loves them. He goes on to encourage them to repent and come back into right relationship with Him.
If you are one who considers yourself a non-practicing Christian, or, If you have lost your zeal for God and His kingdom, I urge you to seek Him with all of your heart. He promises that if you do, you will find Him and if you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. He loves you and He has plans for you that will never be fulfilled in non-practicing status. And if you are a pastor coddling and catering to non-practicing Christians, stop it. You are responsible to God and the body of Christ for knowing and teaching the truth.