The other day, a relative of mine posted one of those posters with a catchy statement that keeps getting reposted on Facebook, and this is what it said.
"Attending Church every Sunday does not make you a Christian. How you live your life outside of the walls and off of the pews tells the whole story. It's a lifestyle." I immediately made a comment on that statement, then my curiosity got the better of me and I started scrolling down to look at the other comments. I only read about eighty of them, but with the exception of two others who said what I said, people focused on two different aspects of the statement. Most seemed to focus on the subject of church attendance and defended how important it was that attending church was necessary if people were Christians. The second aspect was that if you are a Christian, it should not be just a Sunday thing, but be a lifestyle.
What occurred to me was that all of these people had completely missed the point. Being a Christian does not have anything to do with church attendance, nor does observing a lifestyle necessarily make you one. A person can still be a Christian and not attend church. Many people have had to do that over the millennia, as they had to stay in hiding about their faith or be killed. Many still have to do that in some countries. As for the second aspect, I have seen many people in a number of denominations and even cults, who live a lifestyle that is moral and Christian-like, and these people are not necessarily saved, because they either believe in a works salvation, or they do not believe that Jesus is God incarnate who died for their sins. Yet their lives are very pure, even moreso than some Christians'.
What everyone missed, with the exception of two other people, was the fact that becoming a Christian only comes about through one way. That way is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship is not dependent upon regular attendance at a church, for this is an impossibility for some people in certain situations. We are not to forsake getting together with other believers to encourage and exhort each other, but that is not the same as attending an organized church on a weekly basis for formal services. If the church is in apostasy, it is far better to not attend and just gather with those who are like-minded for home services or Bible studies.
As for the lifestyle part, yes, a true Christian's lifestyle should reflect their faith, but the reverse is not necessarily true. You cannot make the statement that a person who has a moral lifestyle is in truth a born again believer, for some cults deny Christ, yet they live very moral lifestyles, attend their church regularly, and do good works. Even some people who do not have any religious beliefs may live moral lifestyles and do good works, simply because that is how they were brought up, or how they choose to live.
The only thing that determines whether or not you are a Christian is whether or not you have a personal relationship with the Father through Christ Jesus. This is the only definition of a Christian. So the statements "Attending Church every Sunday does not make you a Christian. How you
live your life outside of the walls and off of the pews tells the whole
story. It's a lifestyle," are misleading statements. The first part is true, as church attendance does not determine whether or not you have accepted Christ as your Savior. Church attendance is not even a gauge, for many devout Christians are walking away from the churches due to the apostasy there. The second part, as to how you live your life outside of church tells the whole story, is a false statement. Many people live perfectly moral lives totally outside of the Christian faith. The third part, that it is a lifestyle is ambiguous. The believer should live a lifestyle that reflects God, but a lifestyle does not determine whether or not the person is a believer.
The fact that out of eighty responses, I only saw two that realized the error in this message and what the truth really was bothered me. It means that only two and a half percent of the people reading that post (of those that I read), who consider themselves Christians, understood what real salvation is based upon, a relationship. Neither church attendance nor a lifestyle will make you a Christian. It is now much easier to understand what Christ meant when He said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in
heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have
we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils?
and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7:21-23. Many people who believe they are headed to heaven may not get there, for they are counting on the church (and their faithful attendance) or their lifestyle (of being a good person) to get them there. They do not really know Christ, for you can only know Him when you have a relationship with Him. In that day He will not recognize them.