Summary: First message in a Summer Sunday Series drawn from the book "Christianish" by Mark Steele
Summer Sunday Series
Part 1- Are You Christianish?
So, here we are on the first Sunday in July, kicking off our Summer Sunday Series. In a way, it’s kind of sad that we’re starting this particular series in the summer, seeing as from now until September our members are going to be coming and going, traveling hither and yon, like New England gypsies. Summer is short, winter feels long, and to paraphrase an old saying, you’ve got to make vacation hay while the sun shines. And while I don’t begrudge anyone their holidays, as a pastor I wish that everyone could be here each and every Sunday...especially when the topic is going to address something that most Christians have to deal with at some point in their walk with God.
The name of this series is “Christianish”, and you may be wondering what on earth the word means. Well, Christianish simply refers to the state a believer can find himself in when he has the appearance of a Christian in certain areas of his life, but not necessarily the substance of Christianity in his heart. A Christianish person does some of the things you’d expect a Christian to do, and can generally give you the impression that she’s a good Christian when you’re in church with her, but outside of the church walls she can be something else entirely. That’s what it means to be Christianish; it means being a Christian, sort of.
Want to know what’s particularly sad about this state of affairs? It’s that the longer a person has been a Christian, the more they’re in danger of becoming Christiainish. This isn’t usually the state of a new believer. A new believer is generally excited about following Jesus and doing what He says and living life as a disciple. The kind of lukewarmness that’s necessary to be Christianish doesn’t usually have opportunity to develop until a person is at least several years into their walk with God. Being Christianish is usually a disease of the “experienced” Christian, of the mult-generational Pentecostal. So as this series is presented, let the mature saints listen closely to see if they fit the descriptions presented. And let the new disciples pay attention as if they were hearing a warning of what may be.
I. Are You Christianish?
I guess that the best way to start off is by finding out if you are Christianish. Finding out if you are requires three things of you.
First of all, it requires introspection. That’s simply the ability to look inside yourself, to examine yourself in order to discover your true condition. Introspection is difficult , can be painful, and Pentecostals in particular seem to find it especially challenging. Our faith is extroverted and “out there”, with a lot of emphasis placed on external demonstration and appearance. So it can be hard for us to find a quiet place to walk through the corridors of our own hearts. But introspection is necessary in order to discover if you’re actually living as Jesus would have you live, or if you’re simply Christianish.
Next, hand-in-glove with introspection is honesty...the ability to be honest with yourself about what you find in your own heart. The ability to accept the not-so-good things that turn up in the dark closets of your life, and then deal with them, is of incredible importance in transforming your life from merely Christianish to actually being Christian. In my 28 years of ministry I’ve observed that most long time believers are more apt to shut the closet door quickly and pretend they’ve found nothing. But introspection requires honesty. Look, in life’s journey you’re going to accumulate baggage...even as a believer. It should be no surprise that you’ve got things in your heart’s closet that you’d rather no one knew about. But the ability to be honest with yourself about that stuff will help you in the transformation from fake to real, from pretend to genuine.
Then, in this spirit of honest introspection, you need to ask yourself some questions...and give yourself some honest, straightforward answers. Questions like;
“Am I more concerned with being the kind of Christian that others think I should be than I am with actually being like Jesus?”
“Have I compartmentalized my life to the extent that Who Jesus is affects only a part of my living, but doesn’t shape every area of my life?”
“Does my feeling of success as a Christian largely depend upon completing a checklist of rules and regulations?”
“Do I think that by attending Sunday worship faithfully, paying tithe, and completing the checklist that I have fulfilled my Christian obligations?”
If in your heart you realize that you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you’re probably Christianish. That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news; you’re not alone (which probably should be bad news, too), and you can change. You see, you weren’t always Christianish. At one time you were “on fire”, you lived for Jesus with all your heart, and your deepest longing was to be like Jesus. And you can be that way again.