American Churches At Christmas: Full, Partial, or Empty
"High Season Christian"
Dressed and there two times a year.
Are you one of those?
Practicing For The Real Game Of Life?
If what I am about to write, and you are about to read, stirs the pot a little, I may have achieved my goal in writing.
I know some Christians whose "practice" of their religion boils down to getting dressed up and attending their denomination's church services at Christmas and at Easter. For some of them that is the beginning and end of their annual religious "practice."
I know others who equally seldom attend any formal church service, but who "practice" their belief and faith in Jesus Christ in their daily walk with Him every day.
I know others whose Christian "practice" is, as one has described, "shooting their arrows, and then drawing their target where the arrows hit." This latter group---and there are many---pick and choose from God's commandments and "practice" only those commandments that allow for the lifestyle they have chosen.
I personally believe that a loving Heavenly Father gave each of His children something called "Free Agency" or the right in mortality to make their own choices of obedience to His commandments or disobedience. It is not a stretch to call such choices "my will" or "His will."
Does simply going to church "make" someone into a Christian? Certainly no more than sitting in a garage makes someone into a car.
It strikes me as peculiar that many people seem to choose their own "form of religion" in the same way that an unskilled archer might draw their target wherever their arrows landed and then point to how successful they are, some even believing that they have mastered that skill.
I am glad that so many who claim to be Christians go to some church service during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
I have no question that there are those who do so with sincere hearts, real intent, and personal reverence for such occasions.
I admire the customer at the local post office who buys a year's worth of the "Forever" Christmas stamps annually so that every mailing is a reminder of that customer's faith in Christ and their hope for His return.
I admire the person who finds a penny and then ponders on how they are doing in trusting God in their life and in the lives of friends and loved ones.
But I suspect there are many who know of Christ but are not converted to a Christian life in the sense of honoring what Christ called the two great commandments, namely to love God the Father, and love their neighbor as much as they love themselves.
I suspect that a Christianity that does not involve service to others at the expense and sacrifice of oneself, is not Christianity as Christ taught and exemplified it.
Just as with archery, in which expertise requires constant practice and mastery of the skills of archery, so also I think Christianity requires constant practice and an effort to master the skills of Christianity.
Whether someone who knows of Christ gathers together with one or more other believers on a regular or irregular basis is a matter of "Free Agency". What their intent in doing so, or not doing so, is something that they know and God knows.
As for me? I am "practicing" with the intent to master the difficult path of discipleship in the belief and understanding that "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23) For "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. .Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." (John 15:12-15)
Christ set the example of personal prayer and "practice". He created a church of discipleship and doing. He made promises that remain contingent on keeping God's commandments, and I know that one of those promises is the eternal joy of His friendship.
For any "practicing" Christian there can be no greater promise than His friendship and life eternal abiding with Christ in the presence of God.