I came across the term “Theoretical Christianity” a couple of weeks ago, used by a missionary of a past generation to describe much of the church in her time and experience. Significantly, I believe, she was extraordinarily used by God in the renewal of the Church in her adopted homeland the results of which are still reverberating throughout China today.
Let me preface what I am about to say so as to avoid any misunderstanding.
I was brought up within the circles of what we call the Evangelical Church. I came to faith in Jesus Christ as a child – I can still remember the moment. My spiritual heritage on my mother’s side was Presbyterian – and on my father’s an independent Evangelical Church group. Over my life I have attended and been involved with churches of every shade and opinion – well almost! In every one of these – from the most narrow to the most extreme – I have been privileged to meet and know true men, women and children of God – people who have radiated the heart and love of The Father. However – I would still be forced to agree today with the Missionary I have quoted – many if not most churches are populated predominantly by “Theoretical Christians” – people who owe allegiance to the denomination, tradition and structure above anything else. Many times, had I not known differently, such people would have sickened me of Christianity and I would have concluded it was all a sham.
I could share many experiences to illustrate this – some very sad, some extremely hurtful and some laughable. On the funny side I remember, some years ago now, meeting a minister at an inter church event here on Skye who came and introduced himself and shook my hand. The inevitable first question was asked – “And what Church do you go to?”. When I replied he turned and walked away without saying a word. I was not of his variety – so he did not want to know me. Incidentally this humorous incident belies a massive problem in the Church today – if you do not belong to my circle I have no interest in you. How unlike Jesus we have become!
However I write – not for any malevolent purpose – but to encourage those who may be where I might have been and to say – the true God lives far outside and apart from this kind of religion! Don’t be put off God by the hypocrisy of some of those who claim to represent him! Despite the behaviour of many of those who call themselvs Christians [and all of us fail in this regard] – God is real – He loves you – He gave his all for you! And he longs to know you – to share His Life with you. Look for Him [not religion] – seek Him [not the religious] – in simplicity and honesty – and he will reveal himself to you. He is, thankfully, and without any doubt more than a theory!
“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT)