In recent years an increasing number of prominent voices have challenged Christians to pursue their faith more earnestly, leaving behind the casual Christianity that mars the landscape of faith to practice a more radical approach instead. They encourage the church to embrace Jesus’ most difficult teachings not just His palatable promises, and to adopt a holistic approach to faith not just one based on convenience, comfort, or ease.
And while much of what has been said and written on the topic of radical Christianity is biblically sound, well articulated, and urgently needed, a fundamental truth of Scripture frequently gets lost. Too often audiences are lead to believe that two legitimate forms of Christianity exist: casual and radical. The frail faith that loves the world, serves self-interests, ignores the Word, and relishes God’s promises but not His presence is just as authentic as the fervent faith that consumes hearts, transforms lives, dictates decisions, spurs sacrifice, and passionately pursues the Lord. The faith that lacks any proof of its presence is no less genuine than the faith with overwhelming evidence of its existence.
But nothing in Scripture validates that assessment. Not a single account of Jesus’ ministry captures Him affirming casual Christianity as a legitimate option for His followers. In fact, whenever Jesus distinguishes between the dedicated disciple and the casual fan He always emphasizes the insufficiency of the latter.
Simply put, casual Christianity does not exist. It is false faith. And radical Christianity only exists as a synonym for authentic Christianity, which always appears radical to the world.
So what differentiates the two? In a nutshell: the heart.
- Authentic faith flows from and transforms the heart. Faux faith flows from the head and transforms outward appearance.
- Authentic faith loves the Lord passionately. Faux faith loves lip service.
- Authentic faith pursues the presence of Christ. Faux faith pursues the desires of self.
- Authentic faith says, ‘Here I am Lord, send me.’ Faux faith says ‘Some other time, Lord.’
- Authentic faith revels at the opportunity to serve the Lord sacrificially. Faux faith says ‘Sacrifice is legalism.’
- Authentic faith stores up treasure in heaven. Faux faith pursues earthly treasure.
- Authentic faith crucifies the flesh and dies to self. Faux faith seeks common ground for faith and flesh to co-exist.
- Authentic faith declares, ‘Thy will be done, Lord.’ Faux faith proclaims, ‘Only when it doesn’t inconvenience or discomfort me.’
- Authentic faith counts the cost and surrenders all. Faux faith counts the benefits and carves out exceptions.
- Authentic faith rejoices when God places a claim on the calendar or wallet. Faux faith grudgingly groans, ‘Not again.’
- Authentic faith celebrates grace’s freedom by cheerfully obeying God. Faux faith insists freedom from the law is freedom from unreasonable obedience.
Jesus emphasized the fact that not all who claim Him as Lord will enjoy eternal life (see Matthew 7:21-23). Those who embrace cultural, casual Christianity will instead find themselves cast into outer darkness. Don’t let that be you, my friend.