Chinese Church VoicesChristian Life

Don't Just be a "Sunday Christian"

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

The "Sunday Christian" phenomenon is not just a feature of lukewarm churches in the West. The demands of urban life in China have taken their toll on the commitment of Christians there as well. In this online church publication, two Chinese believers point out the dangers both for the spiritual life of the individual Christian as well as for the church.

Summary: As a Christian, if you only busy yourself with things of the world, if you indulge in the pleasures of this world, if you only go to church on Sundays, how can you have an abundant Christian life? And how can a person like this be the type of Christian that God can use? How can this "neither hot nor cold" condition please God?

Christians usually obey the Bible's instruction, "six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest" (Ex. 34:21). So, every Sunday, they pick up the Bible which they have laid aside for a week, brush off the dust, and hurry off to church. Because the church is crowded with these old faces, and every year at Christmas is even more overcrowded, people from far and near will surge toward the church, packing it to the limit. As a result, it seems like Christians have an extremely respectful and joyous attitude toward the birth of Jesus. It also seems that there is a revival in the Church.

But crowded Sundays and exciting Christmases are a huge contrast with the sparse numbers that usually show up for small groups and other fellowship opportunities. Why are the small group numbers so low? Why is it so difficult for the small groups, places of such dynamic sharing, to attract those who enthusiastically attend church on Sundays? We need to think through this issue; as a Christian, if you only busy yourself with things of the world, if you indulge in the pleasures of this world, if you only go to church on Sundays, how can you live an abundant Christian life? And how can someone like this be the type of Christian that God can use? How can this "neither hot nor cold" condition please God?

The European church should serve as a warning for the Chinese church (Rev. 3:17). Huge church buildings that can hold multiple thousands of people only have 20 or 30 people attending church on Sundays. It's said that Europeans only attend church three times in their lives: at their baptism, their wedding, and their funeral. In fact, they are not real Christians; they are just nominal Christians. If we don't zealously love God, we may find ourselves following the disastrous path of the Europeans.

First, being a Sunday Christian doesn't please God

When Jesus was on earth He said, "Many are called, but few are chosen." (Matt. 22:14) Many Christians are those who have been called, or invited. They like to go to church with other people on Sundays and on Christmas, but once Sunday has passed, some of them will keep silent and lie low. You won't see them for six days. They'll quietly turn around, leave church, and throw themselves into their own pursuits, busying themselves with all sorts of worldly affairs. They won't read their Bible, won't pray, and will have no daily quiet time. This bustling about will continue day after day and year after year. It seems like they can't stop being busy, and especially can't find the time to go to church. How can this type of Christian please God? Children generally know that if they want to please their parents, they need to see their parents often, and talk with them and share their hearts.First of all, being in frequent contact with your parents lets them know that you love them. Secondly, we can only stay on the right path if we are familiar with our parents' instructions. It's natural that God would want us to be like this. He wants us to come to church and hear his Words and obey his commands. He especially wants us to love him. He doesn't want us to only be Christians who crowd around him, but ones who touch him and follow closely in his steps for a lifetime.

Second, its hard for a Sunday Christian to establish an intimate relationship with God

"Sunday Christians," in a year with 365 days, will only spare Sundays to draw close to God. Ask yourself, is this one day a week enough to have an intimate relationship with God? People who understand interpersonal relationships all know that if you want to establish a good relationship with someone, you need to be in touch often, whether it's making a phone call, or stopping by their house for a deeper type of communication. Regular contact will not only enhance mutual affection, it will also increase mutual understanding, so you can communicate freely. In the same way, if Christians regularly communicate with God, they'll understand the heart of God. It's easy for someone who understands the heart of God to develop an intimate relationship with Him. Furthermore, through communicating with God, you're allowing God to enter your heart, allowing Him to understand what's really in there, to empathize with you in your difficulties, and to carry your burdens. In this way, even if you run into difficulties or suffer setbacks, you will never have the bitter feeling that God has left you out in the cold.

However, because "Sunday Christians" don't have an intimate relationship with God, when they suffer hardships, even if they come before God, they don't know what to say, because they are too unfamiliar with him. How can someone who is usually estranged from God draw near to him in an emergency? And even if he draws near to God in an emergency, he casts God aside at all other times. Isn't the kind of person who calls on God when he needs help but forgets about Him the rest of the time the same as a worldly person who is eager for quick success and instant gratification? And how can someone with a heart like this establish an intimate relationship with God? To state it harshly, this kind of person is just using God, despising His grace.

Thirdly, it's hard for "Sunday Christians'" to grow spiritually

Anyone who knows anything about nutrition knows that eating and drinking too much at one meal isn't very healthy. "Sunday Christians" don't normally eat much of the "Bread of Life;" they only get it once a week on Sundays when they go to church and hear God's Word. This obviously doesn't create good conditions for spiritual growth and maturity. Even if they are passionately hungering for God's Word on Sundays, it's not enough to meet the needs for spiritual growth, because, as the Chinese saying goes, "you can't get fat on one bite."Spiritual life is like the life of our physical bodies. We need to eat three meals a day, eating regular amounts on a regular schedule. Our spiritual needs are the same; only by consuming a regular supply of spiritual food can we grow spiritually every day. Parents of infants all know that they must give the baby regular feedings. Parents wouldn't let a baby miss a feeding, and they definitely wouldn't feed the baby one day and make him starve the rest of the week. This is common knowledge. Why is it so hard to put this into effect in our consumption of spiritual food? Do we really think that spiritual growth is not as important as physical growth? Is the life of a Christian destined to remain in the infant stage forever? Every Christian wants to become a "spiritual grown-up," one who can eat solid food and not just drink spiritual milk.

Finally, its hard for Sunday Christians to commit to the church

It's hard for a "Sunday Christian" to be integrated into the church family, and even harder for them to commit to the church. The church is just a place where they can "consume" at regular intervals. After "consuming" they clear out. They have no emotional attachment or ties to the church. On the road of faith, they are unwilling to offer their lives to God, and they're unwilling to cede control to God. Other than going to church, they have no fellowship, no quiet times, they don't pray and they don't read the Bible. How can a spiritual life like this be fully committed to God? Actually, from the day one becomes a Christian he should present himself wholly to God and fully commit himself. And the church is the Body of Christ; commitment to the Church is an indicator of commitment to God. A Christian must be like a branch connected to God's grapevine if he wants to produce more abundant fruit.

In summary, "Sunday Christians" don't find favor with God, and it's difficult for them to establish a good relationship with God. Even more, because they can't create spiritual growth in themselves, "Sunday Christians" must constantly be on guard, keep returning "home," keep going back to the big church family, and keep returning to the refuge of God's love. We propose that in the life of one who belongs to God, it's one-third work, one-third rest, and one-third serving God. This is the kind of Christian in whom God finds pleasure.

Source: Joann Pittman

ChinaSource Team

Written by members of the ChinaSource staff.  View Full Bio

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