Are We Almost or Altogether Christian?

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” – Brennen Manning

For the last few weeks, we have been doing a sermon series called The Words of Wesley. I am preaching a few of John Wesley’s sermons but they are somewhat shortened and are in modern language as opposed to the “King James” English that Wesley used. Today’s sermon was “The Almost Christian” where Wesley discussed the attributes of one who is an “Almost Christian” and one who is an “Altogether Christian.” Wesley’s message can be boiled down to say that the Almost Christian seems to be doing everything that a Christian ought to do – going to worship, appearing to reject sin, even praying, etc. – but they lack a sincere faith. A sincere faith and desire to truly serve God are what separate the Almost Christian from the Altogether Christian. In other words, Almost Christian looks and even sounds Christian but they are merely going through the motions for nothing because they lack faith.

In preparing for this sermon, I began to think of cultural Christianity. I have written about this before and how I long for the day when cultural Christianity is dead. I still long for that day. It was not that long ago – and somewhat this is still the case – that churches were filled with people who were only there out of expectation or as a means of material or political gain. Using the name of God for personal gain is nothing new but, as I wrote in my previous article, there was a time when one could suffer in business and politics if they did not attend any church or even the right church. If we take a good, hard, and honest look at why so many people attended worship services in the so-called “good old days,” we find that personal gain was a major motivation.

‘Merica.

Wesley’s sermon makes one take a good, hard, and honest look at their spiritual life to decide if they are truly an Altogether Christian. Toward the end, Wesley asked the congregation gathered at St. Mary’s Church in Oxford, England that day a series of questions. For me, this one is the one that really strikes to the heart of whether or not one is an Altogether Christian.

The great question of all, then, still remains. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart? Can you cry out, “My God, and my All”? Do you desire nothing but him? Are you happy in God? Is he your glory, your delight, your crown of rejoicing?

So much of what certain people who proclaim Christ engage in can be perceived that the answer to the question above is a resounding “no.” There are so many among us who are using the name of Christ as a means to gain political points. We have church choirs singing political propaganda songs under the guise of a worship anthem. We have an extreme end of a certain political party who insist that they are the only ones who are the true Christians in the political realm.

They may say this but the way they treat the poor and the marginalized say otherwise.

I don’t intend to go off on a political tangent but I do want us to think about whether we are truly part of the church and claim the name of Christ strictly as a means of personal or political gain. If we do the right things, say the right words, and have no motivation other than looking good than we are maybe an Almost Christian (if we are anywhere close to Christian at all). But if our motivation is nothing but the glory of God and we desire nothing but Christ, if we can truly ask ourselves the question above and shout a resounding “yes!” then we are an Altogether Christian.

So are you Almost a Christian or are you Altogether a Christian?

2 thoughts on “Are We Almost or Altogether Christian?

  1. Thank you for writing this post. Apologies now because this is going to be long so feel free to delete if you wish to. This has been a question I’ve asked for years when looking at myself, at everyday life or in church. Sometimes when I thought I was thinking it I was actually saying it, which as you can imagine didn’t always go over well.

    There were many years I didn’t go to church but read the Bible. I lived what I guess would be considered and judged to be a close to Christian life but without thinking about it I did what I read in the Bible.

    Being a single mother I didn’t always have money but every tax season 10% was donated to a local cause or several (never asked for a receipt or turned it down when offered), if I received unexpected money 10% of that was also donated, opened my home to “strays” (animals and humans). I anonymously paid for others purchases or left something on a doorstep that I knew was needed. If you were struggling at Christmas I made sure you ate and your kids had gifts even if one was taken from my own children (after a family meeting and with everyone’s agreement of course). If you were hungry or needed a place to stay everyone knew all they had to do is show up on my doorstep and would be fed and have a safe home. I only asked in return that you show respect for my home and the rules and maybe lend a hand to wash the dishes.

    Several times people would say that I was too good to people, that one day I would regret it, what if I was robbed or worse and I always answered, “I’m just an angel trying to get back home.” It came so naturally. It was exactly what was in my heart. I didn’t think much about it because that’s all any of us are doing. Just for reference, I didn’t drink or do drugs, I worked hard and I wasn’t promiscuous. My kids were polite and well behaved, well most of the time but nobody is perfect but in public always and addressed elders as Miss and Mr, said yes ma’am and no sir even when told none of it was necessary.

    So maybe I have been an Altogether Christian without the trip to church to show everyone else I was God’s servant. A public display of where I stood with God was never my motivation for having faith. I was more concerned what my Savior saw what was in my heart rather than where the community saw my car parked on Sunday morning.

    There is such a HUGE difference between having Jesus in your heart and life and going to church. I don’t think that they are always two pieces of the puzzle that fit together for everyone, although they should. Maybe we will never know until we are judged. So a much sadder question is how many Altogether Christians cars are missing from church and why?

    Be well, always.

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