Many years ago, while out tracting and witnessing in Tampines, I happened to call on a home. The owner in his early thirties opened the door. I stated the purpose of my presence and his face lit up with a broad smile: “Well, I am a Christian. As a child, I attended Sunday School. My grandfather brought me to church. I was even baptised as a baby.” When I brought up the issues of sin, judgment and our eternal destiny, the man replied, “Thank you, I know what you are saying. We used to go to church. But we are too busy now. I am fine.” He closed the door.
My encounter with this young man made me realise that there are many such nominal Christians in our churches today. Thousands claim to know Christ because they have some Christian background, or have attended church, or said the “sinner’s prayer”. Sadly, these people have a warped view of what it means to be a Christian. Either there was poor follow-up, or the novelty of “conversion” had faded away. Whatever the case, somehow the message of Christ’s lordship was never taken seriously.
There is another class of “Christians” who are found in the pews week after week. Their names are even in the church’s membership roll but their hearts are cold. They have neither love for God nor His Word. Patiently, they sit under the pastor’s preaching every Sunday, but the Word does not reach their heart to transform it. They have every appearance of a Christian but their lives do not show it. Their sinful habits remain together with their love for worldly pleasures.
C H Spurgeon calls such a one, “the minimum Christian”. Here is one who hopes to get “to Heaven at the cheapest rate possible. He intends to get all of the world he can, and not meet the worldling’s doom. The Christian who aims to have as little religion as he may without lacking it altogether. … The minimum Christian stands so close to the dividing line between the people of God and the people of the world, that it is hard to say on which side of it he is actually to be found” (www.gracegems.org/2016/08/The%20Minimum%20Christian.html).
Our Lord Jesus Christ had sharp words for those who falsely confess His name: “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt 7: 21-23).
Spurgeon made an interesting observation on this passage: “Not passionately or angrily, but in stern, sad, solemn tones He (Christ) said, ‘I never knew you.’ ‘But we used Thy name, good Lord.’ ‘I know you did, but I never knew you, and you never truly knew Me.’ I can almost imagine someone turning around in that day and saying to some Christians who used to sit in that same pew, ‘You knew me.’ ‘Yes,’ they will reply, ‘we knew you, but that is of no avail, for the Master did not know you.’ I can picture some of you crying out to your minister, ‘Pastor, did not you know us? Surely you recollect what we used to do?’ What can he reply? ‘Ah, yes, sorrowfully do I own that I know you, but I cannot help you. It is only Christ’s knowing you that can be of any avail to you.’”
Brethren, let us examine ourselves whether we are in the faith. Ask ourselves: Do I truly know the Lord? Or am I merely confessing Christ with my lips and not with my life? We may even put up a front, to deceive others but not the Lord Who sees through our hypocrisy. We will have to face His condemnation in the last day.
On the other hand, if we are true believers, our lives will manifest our faith. As we abide in the Lord, we will be fruitful and faithful (Jn 15: 1-8). We will desire to obey the Lord and do His will. In the last day, we will receive the commendation – “enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt 25: 21, 23).