How to Spot a Nominal

Had a great conversation with number one son this morning. One of his friends is adamant that he’s a Christian. It would be wonderful if it was true. But Rufus smells a rat! This lad doesn’t go to church, doesn’t read the Bible and doesn’t talk about Jesus. And nothing gets passed Rufus. He has a high view of church membership! He’s spotted the obvious flaw in his friend’s confident assertion that he’s a Christian. But he just doesn’t know how to point it out.

Rufus’ friend is using ‘Christian’ as a sociological label rather than a theological conviction. Not that he realises it! To be fair, it’s probably what most of the teachers at school would do. He knows he’s not a Muslim and he’s not a Jew and so he must be Christian. Sounds reasonable.

I tried to help Rufus with an illustration that I’ve found helpful on one or two previous occasions.

I may say that I love football. I may say that I follow football. But if, when you press me, it becomes obvious that I don’t watch football, I don’t play football, I don’t read about football and I don’t get together with others to talk about football it seems that it’d be quite legitimate for others to ask whether I really do love football, as I profess. My profession begins to sound a little hollow, doesn’t it? There’s no evidence to back up my assertion that I’m committed to football.

In the same way, if I say that I love or follow Christ but I don’t really show him any interest, if I don’t read about him, if I don’t talk about him or gather with others who share a similar passion it’d be perfectly understandable if others began to question my commitment to Christ, wouldn’t it?

It weedles out the nominals, doesn’t it? But it’s also personally discomforting. It might just be that my profession begins to sound a little hollow as well.

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