Sunday Christians

admin April 30, 2011

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I grew up in your standard mainstream-Christian home.  We were sent to Sunday school (PSR, actually, as I was raised Catholic) and we attended church.  My mom told us it was because she promised at her wedding that she would raise her children Catholic.  Plus, she’d been raised that way (by relatively devout Catholics who, to my knowledge, still frequently attend church daily — in their mid-80s, no less).  Most of our neighbors did the same — attending church, sending their children to Sunday school, celebrating sacraments, and sometimes even being involved in church activities.

But we were all Sunday Christians.

A “Sunday Christian” is one who professes to be a Christian, but whose everyday life is unchanged by this profession.  Being involved in church activities or clubs doesn’t matter; these were (are) more like social clubs anyway.  They were cliques.  And this is what most people see when they look at Christians.

I’m deeply saddened by this, truthfully.  Although I believe Jesus to be the only way to the truth, I don’t begrudge others their religious choices.  But I also don’t see the point in professing to believe something…and not being obviously and outwardly changed by that belief.  If you don’t want to love Jesus with all your heart and strive to live for Him, in the way He would have, why bother to profess to love Him or believe in Him at all?

I struggled against Christianity as a child and teen quite a lot.  I think it was because of this sort of upbringing, where church and related activities were merely an “inconvenience,” an addition to our normal, busy lives.  There was no family prayer in my home.  There was no Bible reading.  My brother and I eventually fought not to go to church or be in youth group anymore; we didn’t see the point.  And indeed, under these circumstances, what point was there?

Obviously I’ve found my way back now (not that I’m perfect — I struggle a lot — more on that next week).  But I’m still surrounded by Sunday Christians.

I wish that more people understood Christianity.  I wish more people understood what it means to follow Jesus.  A true Christ follower sees the world in a whole new light.  They strive to help others, to love others, and to live their lives by Jesus’ teachings, even when it is not convenient or desirable to do so.  They stand up for what is right when everything around them is wrong.  They take persecution as they strive to deliver Christ’s message to unbelievers.

Most importantly, they live a life that is so strikingly different from those around them that others notice.  And they think, “What does this person have that I don’t?  And how can I get that?”  There is a peace about them (most of the time) because they are living for something greater than themselves, and this is evident in their daily lives!

I don’t think, unfortunately, that most of those who profess to be Christians fit into that category.  I wish that they were, but it’s just not the case.  Most people today “believe,” but it’s merely a convenience.  Jesus is a figurehead, of sorts, not really their Lord and Savior.

I’m hoping that those of us who do feel strongly about Jesus can truly live transformed lives, lives in which it is obvious that “something is different.”  I hope we can bring Jesus’ light to the world.  Especially in these tough and often dark times, I hope we can.

What do you think?  Are most people “Sunday Christians” or are many truly on fire for the Lord?

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  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you. My daughters and I have been discussing this recently…How few young women there are that truly want to follow Jesus in every area of their lives. They are Christians, we believe, but they like to have a foot in the world. The Bible does say, however, that we will be a small remnant. All we can do is really love others, be joyful, and be lights in a very dark world.


  2. So true! People often don't understand that Christianity is more than just a religion. It's a personal relationship with God that changes you and, therefore, changes your lifestyle. (Not that we are perfect by any means!). It is only by the grace of God that we can live in freedom and walk according to His ways!


  3. I'm sorry, but i think this is way more complicated than that. Every one has their own path and relationship to God. There is no one and only way to be Christian. As bystanders we have really no idea what other people are thinking and feeling towards God. Moreover, this is a constant path and there is always room for improvement in some way. I never look down on anyone. I know I'm not perfect and I hope God will help me with the struggles I have. Same with others, even if they are "Sunday Christians".


  4. Unfortunately, many "christians" today are christians in name only. There is only ONE way to the Father, and that is thru His son, Jesus. The book of 1John is perfect for those that want to test themselves to see if they be in the faith. In Matthew 7:13-29 talks about those who, on judgment day, will tell Him of all the wonderful things they have done in HIS name, and He will say…"Depart from me, I NEVER KNEW YOU." Being a Christ follower is more than saying a little prayer, more than baptism, more than Sunday school, and perfect church attendance. It is a relationship with the one whose blood was shed for us.
    Narrow is the gate, and there are few who find it….
    That's my soapbox….!


  5. I see both what you are saying and what Marta is saying. What I feel is that I want to be around people who are truly trying to seek out holiness in their life and it feels that very few people are actually doing this. I want my family to be around people who want to live for God and not for this life and I feel very alone in this endeavor.


  6. Everyone is on their own journey either with a relationship that is toward or away from God, but there's only one correct path to be headed in the correct direction, and that's through the saving grace provided by Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.

    The Bible teaches over and over again that for those who choose to follow Jesus Christ, it will have a radical change on their lives! God is the only One who can truly decide/judge if a person has truly chosen to follow Him. But, I don't think it is judgmental when I see families whose morals and values are totally anti-biblical, and I discern that those are the kinds of families that I will be kind to and friendly to, but they won't be my closest friends, because they are not living out a Christian life. I cannot judge whether or not they are believers, but I can see from the fruit they are exhibiting (also talked about a lot in the Scriptures) that their lifestyle is showing that they are not sold out for God.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your article here. We have found some families who are striving to live a holy and righteous life, and almost every one of them has chosen to educate their children at home in order to disciple them and bring them up in the Lord.

    Unfortunately, we have found that almost all families with children in our conservative church are mostly "Sunday Christians." The parents rarely pray with their children; the parents don't read the Holy Scriptures with their children; they don't talk about spiritual things throughout the day…according to the youth director working with those families. And so, their children, like you when you were younger, don't really see the point of going to church or even wanting to live a Christian lifestyle. Most of them, by age 13, are totally hating coming to church, and they want nothing to do with peers who love the Lord. (That's also a big sign.)

    It's not judgmental to look at a person's life, who prayed a 4-sentence prayer at the age of 6 but has never wanted anything to do with Christianity and the Christian lifestyle in the next 35 years, to probably make a fairly educated guess that this person, who would call him or herself a Christian, really isn't. It's still God's decision on that, but when there is no evidence of Jesus Christ changing their heart and life, then an educated guess that they are not believers is probably pretty close.

    So glad to hear that your life has now been changed to be more than just a Sunday Christian!



  7. Julieanne,

    I think you say it well. 🙂 It's not about judging people, just about discerning the type of people that we want to surround ourselves with as we try to bring light to the world.

    Myself? At this time I'm just proud that my 3-year-old ASKS to go to church and tells us how much she loves it…and how she loves to read her Bible. Not perfect here at all but at least there's that! (And we pray together as a family almost everyday.) More on this next week….


  8. This post is right on. BUT, one thing to touch on is not to judge others by their appearance. Clothes (as long as they're covering everything appropriately) don't make the Christian. A friend was telling me the other day this story:

    He was at the hardware store and was being helped find stuff by a guy in messy type clothes – baggy shorts, big t-shirt, and his earlobes had the thing in it that stretches them out so you can see through them (don't know what it's called). He was very polite and helpful and as they were about to part ways, my friend asked him "all right man, what's up with the ear thing?" This guy told him "In the Bible, if a servant is going to be released during the year of rest but doesn't want to leave his master, he nails his earlobe to his master's door. I don't ever want to leave God, so I have nailed my earlobe to his door." My friend was stunned and said his inital reaction was "all right, I'm going to go pierce my ear too!" He didn't in the end, but just a fun little story I thought I'd share.


  9. Let Your Light Shine
    that's what I thought of when I read this and the comments. It's so very difficult. I no longer attend church. I worked hard, taught sunday school, awanas club, and tried to fit in. I was told by one woman that I didn't fit in since I was not of the right "social class". I'm sorry, my house wasn't big enough, my husband was in the construction industry and I liked chickens and homeschooling. I could rant on and on, but this touched a nerve with me. So back to my first sentence. I will always not judge since I don't know where your heart is. But please, try to only say uplifting things to others. It will hopefully spread. A smile, helpfulness, show the love, not from yourself, but coming through you from Jesus.
    Let Your Light Shine!


  10. Jill, for anyone to make that kind of comment to you about your social class, well, I think that would show them where their heart and loyalties rest, don't you think?

    I find it appalling the way that many people, including those claiming to be Christians, will be hateful and rude about someone's clothes, social status, finances, housing, car, etc.

    But even when it makes me quite upset to hear about people acting that way, it's nothing compared to the way that Jesus views this kind of behavior.

    Some will cry, "Lord, Lord," and He will respond, "I never knew you."

    Very sad.


  11. Well, thanks for the response. I have to remember, sometimes with great difficulty not to let my human nature take over. The bottom line is not to feel sorry for myself, but to just pray about the whole situation. We don't always know what Gods plan is for us. Sometimes I think I'm so blind to it.
    I have to make sure that I in turn do not do the same thing that I don't like. One thing this all reminds me of is the homeless people. I keep telling everyone not to lump them under one category. I've met a few of them and they were very nice. When one of my daughters lived down by the beach, there was a group of homeless people that hung out. They helped her out so many times, making sure she got her car moved on street sweeping day, helping her with her groceries. I have had people laugh at me for "chatting" with the homeless. It's true, some do choose to be that way because of things that happened in their lives. I hope that by talking with them, sharing God with them will maybe have some kind of impact, even if it's just a tiny piece of love shown.


  12. I say this as someone still very much journeying to a Christianity that feels authentic to my sense of who God is and who I am, but I think the problem you address arises when people view “faith” as “belief in stuff in order to get stuff.” I am paraphrasing Robin Meyers, pastor of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City and author of “Saving Jesus from the Church.” That meaning of the word “faith” is a very modern one, whereas faith in a religious context used to have several other meanings, including “relationship” and “trust” (and here I think I might be remembering an article by Episcopalian Jesus scholar Marcus Borg). When faith, and Christianity in general, becomes a supernatural contract whereby we as individuals are “saved” and promised an eternal reward because we believe the right things, the Kingdom here on Earth, IN the world, is never allowed to flourish as Jesus’s message implied that it should (and I do not mean this in an apocalyptic sense). We “believers” become content with the fact of our own “salvation” (and the truly obnoxious go out and shout at people about their own damnation–seems a funny way to demonstrate the unconditional love and grace of God) and stop seeing the poverty, suffering, fear, injustice and inequality that Jesus so directly implored his listeners to do something about. We ensconce ourselves in safe, bland suburbs and focus on completely irrelevant codes of individual behavior (sexual purity, etc.) in order to live biblically, ignoring the greatest commandments of the Bible, which center on radical love, charity and non-judgement. I am certainly guilty of living a priviledged, educated WASP lifestyle and doing little to help the state of the world’s poor and to make a stand for justice. On my march to be not just a Sunday Christian, it is Christian action (generosity, true compassion and empathy, friendship) that I hope will bring me closer to actually following Jesus, not merely reciting creeds.


  13. Well said!


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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