“I know. Churchianity is not a word. I think it should be. I would define it as: ‘practicing our church and religious beliefs according to human standards rather than biblical guidelines.’
You see, in many of our churches we are redefining church membership to be something different than the sacrificial and functional teachings of 1 Corinthians 12. As a consequence, too many church members are really practicing churchianity instead of vibrant Christianity.”
(Thom S. Rainer)
I found this quote to be quite intriguing considering many people’s aversion to worshipping God within a church. I’m not personally jaded with the state of the church because I’m fully aware that any body of believers is full of imperfect people, including myself. But we should be honest with ourselves and admit that we Christians could probably do a much better job at living out the biblical precepts of church membership rather than the comfortable idea of Christianity we’ve created over the years. It’s as if Christians in general have forgotten the command from to Jesus to carry our cross daily and to lose our life in order to save it (Luke 9:23-24).
Today, I want to review several characteristics of a biblical Christian. If we’re honest, we may be good in some of these areas and need work in others. That’s ok. Continually growing in Christ is part of what being a Christian is all about. A biblical Christian is…
- SACRIFICIAL– Being a member of the Lord’s church is not meant to be about us. Do we receive many benefits from participation in the church? Of course, and God intended the church to function that way. But we should have a sacrificial heart first if we’re to fully realize the importance of the church. Worship, as the word implies, is meant to be directed towards another, namely God. Instead, we sometimes worship ourselves by demanding that the music be to our taste or the sermon be about the proper topic. Everything we do in our lives should be geared towards what pleases God, not just what pleases us.
- UNIFIED– The unity of the church is the crux of 1 Corinthians 12 and it should be very important to us today as well. The church, or the body, has many parts, but God has placed us together to function in a more efficient way. When we are unified, our worship is more meaningful to God. When we are unified, we are able to encourage one another more effectively. When we are unified, our resources and talents can be pooled to have a greater impact on the world around us. And when we are unified, we show God love by loving one another. We shouldn’t have the attitude that we get to call the shots if we’ve been a member for decades. We shouldn’t create cliques that cause division amongst members and weaken our effectiveness. Unity may be one of if not the most important trait of a biblical Christian.
- OPPORTUNISTIC– I’ve found that attitude determines how successful we are in life and the same can be said about the church’s success in the world. There are so many positive opportunities to serve in Christ’s church that we don’t need to spend time dwelling on the negative. The truth is, there will always be negative in the church because we are a group of people with many individual weaknesses. We all come from different backgrounds, have different struggles and worries, and we definitely all have sin in our lives. (Just read 1 Corinthians and notice all the problems that 1st century church had.) In his wisdom, God has placed us together so that we can grow and use our abilities to affect the world around us for him. And trust me, there are plenty of opportunities out there to show God to the world.
- AMBITIOUS– Take one look at Ephesians 2:8-10 and you can see why our expectation to work should be of utmost priority. God has saved us with his grace. It was and always is a free gift (that does need to be accepted: i.e. obedience to the gospel). We were not saved FROM good works but FOR good works. God has prepared us to do those works and has given you the talents and experiences to be successful. We have to take the initiative to act and use God’s blessings in a way that shows gratitude for all he has given us. The church should help its members in their spiritual growth and give them the tools necessary to get to work, but it is our job to actually get the work done. I don’t know when it became normal to assume that ministry is the job of the preacher or elders or that encouragement was only to be given by those who were good at it. We can all be encouragers, ministers, and givers. We can all be a friend to someone and be a positive influence to those around us. We just have to be ready to do something, anything, and not just sit on the sidelines expecting the work to get completed by someone else.
I would have to agree with Mr. Rainer’s assessment that “churchianity” has become quite a problem amongst today’s Christians, but it is something we can definitely do something about. If each of us would renew our minds in Christ and rededicate ourselves to serving God first, we can become the kind of Christian that the Bible describes, one that is wholly resolved to follow God to the best of his or her ability.