How many times have you sat in church and been told that it’s no good being a “Sunday Christian” – turning up to a service once a week and then going home again afterwards and carrying on with your life as though God doesn’t even exist.
I’m not sure how many folks I know are guilty of such things. In evangelical circles that kind of person is harder to find. We’re usually pretty good at doing more than just Sunday church. We go to small groups, listen to Christian CDs, smile at people as we pass them on the street and occasionally even have conversations about God with our workmates. Some of us even live in Christian ‘community’ houses where we are “being church 24/7” (please, feel free to read as much cynical sarcasm as you want into the double quotation marks).
Don’t get me wrong. All of that is better than being a “Sunday Christian”. But the problem is it has given rise to a new thing, the “Wednesday Christian”.
What do I mean by that? Well, the thing is that being a Christian is not just about the two things I have already mentioned (that is, fellowship and acts of worship (church services & Christian gatherings) and evangelism). James says:
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27)
The problem is that we’ve actually only mastered not being a “sunday worshipper”. When it comes to the living out of our faith we’ve become Wednesday Christians. We’re quite happy to do ‘our bit’ for ‘social justice’ (the annoying catch-all term for the sort of thing James is talking about). We’ll do a shift at the local homeless shelter once a week.
And then we’ll pat ourselves on the back for doing it. (Me included).
What if it’s not about being a Wednesday Christian? What if we’re actually supposed to shift our lifestyle instead? What if it’s about caring for someone in such a way that it actually does inconvenience us? What if instead of fitting the vulnerable around our busy schedule, we allow their plight to break our hearts to the point where we simply cannot do anything but help them?
Instead we have let the world corrupt us. We have become consumers, seeking gratification from the slightest of unselfish acts and constantly after the next thing, the next phase, the newest idea, the latest fad. We have become just like the world around us, under the guise of needing to be ‘relevant’ we have lost what it is to be different at all. We’re just the same as everyone else. Anyone can volunteer one night a week. Many who aren’t religious do so, in fact.
What’s different is sacrificing our lives for the plight of others. That is, as James puts it in another translation, “true religion”.