Pastor Michelle’s started her sermon by saying that I had inspired it, and what good Christian wouldn’t want to inspire a sermon? Of course in almost Jon Acuff style the sermon turned out to be about almost Christians. I don’t know if Pastor Michelle had me in mind for the whole thing, but if she did I don’t think she would have been completely wrong.
She started off talking about Elf (a character I closely resemble and played in rather hilarious Christmas skit). For a brief primer on the story, the main character is a orphan who stows away in Santa’s bag. Once he’s discovered at the north pole and they realize that he’s an orphan one of the elves volunteers to become his father. This is all fine and dandy till he starts to grow and grow and grow, eventually he realizes that he’s not an elf, so he makes his way to where his biological father lives, NYC. And even though Elf is now where he naturally belongs, he still doesn’t fit in, because he’s spent to long at the North Pole.
Elf’s predicament, is the same predicament the Almost Christian finds himself. Not of this world and not of Christ’s. Caught in an uncomfortable place. The Almost Christian appears to be a Christian in every way, they go to Church, they sing loud and proud, they are generous and ethical. To the natural eye they are a Christian, but God’s eye sees their heart. And the Almost Christian’s heart is far from God. They are ethical and generous because it’s the right thing to do. They go to Church and worship God because it’s the right thing to do. All that’s fine and dandy and those things are right and good, but the Almost Christian treats them as an end in themselves, the tools of their own righteousness. In the face of pressure or when it’s no longer culturally acceptable the Almost Christian will abandon his ethics in his best effort to fit in, much like Elf.
What then is a Christian? Three things differentiate a Christian from an Almost Christian.
- They have an all consuming love of God – Who do I have in heaven and earth but You?! Anything that anchors your heart to this world, pulls you away from Christ.
- They are driven by Faith. Intellectual belief is not enough. Our minds can change, what we know as facts can change, but the truth remains.
- They have an intimate relationship. The revelation of the gospel is that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we may have an intimate relationship with God.