Saturday, October 5, 2013

Are You an "Almost-Christian"?

The adult Sunday School class (that meets Sundays at 11:15) has begun a six-week study of Bob Crossman's book, "Committed to Christ - Six Steps to a Generous Life."  It is a book on Christian "stewardship."

But what I find striking about the book (so far) is the introductory section that precedes the six lessons.  The author points out that NOTHING contained in the book is more important than knowing whether or not the reader has established a "relationship" with Christ.  Without such a decision, a person is merely an "almost Christian."  This is a critical point.  Mr. Crossman states:

"John Wesley, Anglican priest and founder of the eighteenth century Methodist movement, was a preacher's kid.  From Wesley's perspective at his father's side, he saw lots of churchgoers who lived without purpose, claiming to be Christians because they went to church and had been baptized.  Wesley believed there must be more to Christianity than sitting in worship on Sunday morning and going through a baptism ceremony.  He began to seek the answer to some basic questions:

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

What does the LORD expect of His faithful followers?
What "holy habits" should be present in the believer's life?

After years of thought and practice, Wesley eventually made a distinction between what he called the "almost Christian" and the "altogether Christian."  The almost-Christian, Wesley preached in a famous sermon, will attend worship every Sunday; pray; respect common honesty; never steal a neighbor's property; feed the hungry; refrain from cursing or gossiping; and may use time and talents to serve God.  Wesley, describing himself in his early years, said,

'It is possible to go this far and yet be but almost a Christian.  I used all diligence to avoid evil and keep a clear conscience.  I was careful of my time, using every opportunity to do good.  I was constantly using all the means of grace.  With God as my witness, I did this with all sincerity, having a real desire to serve God.  Yet, all that time I was only almost a Christian.'" (pp. 14 & 15)

If this is what an "almost-Christian" is, what do you think Wesley meant by an "altogether Christian?"  Startling thought, to think that many folks who, judging from their church experience, SEEM to be true Christians, may actually only be "almost" a Christian.   They've put the cart before the horse, so to speak; in fact, in could be stated that there is NO horse at all!

Intrigued by this distinction?  Come to Sunday School this weekend and find out more.