It’s not in Webster’s Dictionary, and it isn’t even a real word. But we all know one when we see one. The Churchian is the guy that you see at church regularly, yet when asked if he is a believer, you shrug your shoulders, and say – “Well, he comes to church most of the time...”
The Churchian is the gal that knows all about what’s happening within the four walls of their local parish, but will rarely ever say anything about what the Lord is doing in her own personal life.
Our churches can quite easily harbor many of these Churchians and never know it. Like Stepford wives, they fit in among us, and seem quite fine on the outside, but are sorely lacking authentic change on the inside. I should know, I was a Churchian for far longer than I would care to admit.
Of course, the bottom line is that Jesus makes all the difference. Acceptance of his lordship is what transitions us from church-going Churchian into a renewed and transformed washed in the blood Christian.
But you and I both know quite well that we can’t judge anyone’s heart. We don’t know who has made that acceptance, and who is just along for the ride. No, we can’t see inside the mind and heart of those around us -but we can look at their fruits. As the old saying goes – if you know the fruit, you know the root.
These 3 main fruits will help all of us decipher the difference between Christians and Churchians amongst us.
My Sheep Know My Voice
Jesus said in John 10 that his sheep know his voice. He also said that those that do not believe are not his sheep. Every sheep of the flock knows the voice of the Lord, for they responded to his calling them into his flock. This is not to say that they ALWAYS are certain if they heard God’s voice or not, for we’re all a work in progress – but they know it just the same. The Churchian is rarely concerned about whether they’ve heard God’s correction or guidance. Their focus is almost all about what the church is doing (or to be more accurate, what the church ISN’T doing).
Those Christians that struggle to recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd almost always feel a certain degree of agony over their sad state. It’s much like the old “crazy test” – if you are concerned that you are crazy, it’s usually proof that you are not. Because insane people do not tend to sit around wondering if they are actually insane or not. People that are concerned about the fact that they aren’t hearing the voice of the Lord clearly enough should rest at ease – that’s a sign that they have heard His voice and long to do so again.
Faith Only Expressed on Sundays, (Or Wednesdays – whenever the church is open)
When God gets ahold of you, then you are not able to easily contain the joy abundant that comes with being adopted into his family. The Bible calls it our “first love” and with good reason. It trumps everything else this world has to offer. There’s no way to only express that kind of love to a couple of hours a week.
Christians understand this, Churchians do not. Our faith should spill out into every part of our lives (finances, work, parenting, recreation, entertainment, etc.), not just be isolated to what happens within a couple of walls at church. What we learn and understand at church should get practiced and worked out the rest of the week. Churchians are content to hear and not act; watch and not emulate. As long as they can answer all of the “Christian quiz” answers, they are content. There’s no need to try to practice that in their daily lives, because just knowing the answers is enough in their books.
Love is All You Need
With apologies to the Beatles, this is truly the bottom line. We are told in Scripture that they will tell us by our love. Living the Christian life of loving enemies, turning the other check, and forgiving 70 times 7 takes a supernatural effort. An effort that we can’t do on our own – and that’s kind of the whole point. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to help us. Churchians cannot love like God, for they haven’t experienced it themselves. They have no access to this life altering love, and therefore cannot give it. You just can’t give what you don’t have. This was, perhaps one of the smartest things God ever did (and he’s got quite the sheet of impressive deeds on his length resume). Making it so it is not our power, arguments, amazing buildings or anything else that will be the chief sign of his followers was pure genius. He chose love – true love – to be the sign by which we are known.
As I mentioned earlier, I was a Churchian for far too long. As such, I can say that the main thing Churchians need is love. They need to be shown that there is more – so much more – than the piddly little happenings of the church. The myriad programs and events going on at our churches only gain importance when seen through the lens of eternity. Churchians don’t understand that, but they can. If those around them will continue to point to the truth.
So if you see a few Churchians in the pew next to you this week, do not cast judgement. Do not presume that you are better than them for even one moment. Instead, do what Jesus did for you – go to them. Invest in them. Show them how your faith is expressed throughout the week. Love them with an extravagant love that cannot be contained on Sundays only. If they’re smart, they’ll see that you have something they do not, and they’ll want it. Sometimes the best mission field is our very own church.