Sunday, 28 April 2013

'Christianity Lite' - The most popular brand in today's church

Many manufacturers and companies today will offer their products in a 'lite' version. It may be food producers with their low fat and diet products, described as being more healthy, same taste but better for you. It can be software manufacturers selling simpler, trimmed down versions of their products. It can indeed be a great variety of items, all marketed as 'lite', lacking in those things which are considered either undesirable or unnecessary. The purpose is that we can choose the version which suits us, with just what we need but nothing more. Such an approach is also evident in the form of Christianity which many adhere to today, even in reformed evangelical circles. Many believers only have a desire for a 'lite' Christianity, one which places no great demands on them, but which gives them just what they need and no more; their passage to heaven, but with no 'added extras' which might cause them inconvenience. This lite Christianity appears to be more popular than any other form today, yet just as many lite products in the supermarket lack that real flavour, so lite Christianity lacks the real substance of a living faith. There are many evidences of this lite Christianity in congregations today, yet it is something which is detrimental to the church and to the lives of believers.

The Evidences of Lite Christianity

An infrequent attendance at the house of God
The best attended regular meeting of the church is the Sunday morning service, yet for many professed believers it is the only service they attend. They are 'Sunday morning only' Christians. By the time of the gospel service in the evening many will be mysteriously absent. Whilst it is acknowledged that some will have legitimate demands such as young families that prohibit both parents from attending in the evening, it is doubtless true that many simply lack the desire to be at more than one service in a week. By the time the midweek prayer meeting comes around the numbers of professed believers in attendance has fallen even further! What is actually the most important meeting in the church is the worst attended, a desire and burden to pray being absent from the lives of many believers. There are Christians in churches across our land, who for ten, twenty, thirty, even forty years, have never seen the inside of a prayer meeting. What a sad testimony that truly is that they have no desire to pray with God's people. Where we only have a desire for a lite Christianity the simplest of excuses will keep us from a regular attendance at the house of God; tiredness and sickness that that does not affect us on any other occasions, social commitments, our favourite television programmes and many other things of lesser importance. All these, in keeping us from that place where God meets with his people, are a sure evidence of a lite Christianity.

A neglect of the sacraments of the church
It is a sight we regularly see in our churches; as the last hymn is sung before Communion, streams of believers head for the door, almost quicker than the unconverted to leave the service. When Christ broke bread with his disciples for the last time in the upper room, he gave them the commandment 'This do in remembrance of me'. Yet many who profess the name of Christ, trusting in that sacrifice which is remembered at the communion feast, have never partaken of that feast with their fellow believers. Likewise the sacrament of baptism; what a sad indictment it is that many believers, some who have been saved for decades, have never went through the waters of baptism. These two sacraments of the church are considered by many Christians to be optional extras, not included in their 'lite' Christianity. Yet they are no reserved for 'super Christians', but for all who profess the name of Christ. To neglect the Lord's Supper and to neglect baptism is simply to be disobedient to God's command. What profession of Christianity is that, to openly and deliberately neglect what God has commanded?

A lack of involvement in the Lord's work
The figure has often been quoted that 80% of the work in the church is done by 20% of the people. A look at most congregations today this would lead us to believe that this is a reasonable estimate. All too often it is left to the same faithful few to teach Sunday School classes, conduct open air meetings, carry out door to door outreach, and in general do whatever work needs to be done in the church. The 'lite' Christianity of many is evident by their inactivity in the regular work of the church. We do not all have the same gifts of service yet God has given a gift to everyone that we may serve him; many have never sought to discover what gift God has given them. Often serving the Lord will cause us to put ourselves out, sacrifices will have to be made when involved in the work of the church, yet in truth to serve our Lord is not really a sacrifice but a privilege. If our Christian walk is such that we have no time or desire to be involved in God's work on a regular basis then we have only deprived ourselves of the blessing of God; how then will we obtain that 'well done thy good and faithful servant' ?

A preference for church social events
There is one place where we can be sure to find those who adhere to a 'lite' Christianity, it is at the social events of the church. Scores of people, absent from all other events in the church , will flock to the church dinner. Busloads can be filled for the church outing, great numbers will stay for supper after the service, yet those same people would be absent were a prayer meeting arranged for the same time. There is nothing wrong with these social activities in and of themselves, they have their place, yet they ought not to be the thing which most grips us. As we would gladly change our plans to be at the social activities of the church, will we do the same for the spiritual? The social event will appeal greatly to the lover of a 'lite' Christianity, for that is what they desire, something undemanding and unchallenging.

A shallow knowledge of scriptural truth
It is the desire of every believer that they would grow in their faith, that each day they would know more or their saviour and have a closer walk with him. Central to this is our knowledge of the truths contained in scripture. Whilst dry doctrine on it's own will bring little benefit, we need to have a knowledge of doctrine to truly know how God would have us to live. Yet so many believers fail to deepen their knowledge of God's word. Their understanding of the work of redemption in their lives has never moved much beyond the idea of 'asking Jesus into our heart'. We cannot all be great theologians, but where is that knowledge and understanding of regeneration, of justification, of adoption, of the other great doctrines of grace? Beyond the well known stories of Sunday School days, many believers will struggle; the non-narrative portions of the scriptures are a mystery to them. What a tragedy it is, for the greater our knowledge of Christ the more we can rejoice in what he has done for us. How 'lite' their Christianity is!

These are but a few of the evidences of a 'lite' Christianity, but how many of them can we find in our own lives? If we are honest then we must say that at least some hint of them can be found; perhaps our faith is more 'lite' than we would like to admit. Is it maybe so 'lite' that some could question whether we are truly converted?! Our Christian life is not like choosing a car, where we can add optional extras to it as we choose. The child of God ought to have a burning desire to serve his God, to be faithful and diligent in observing all things which he has commanded us to do. May we be satisfied with nothing short of this, fearing 'the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul'.

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