41 million people signed the last published UK Census as "Christians". Most of them do not attend church - but still believe they are Christian, for one of a number of reason. These reasons must include those who feel they are:
- attracted to, and inspired by Jesus Christ but they don't "do Church"
- baptised/confirmed - which makes them feel "Christian"
- going to church at Christmas and Easter - which makes them feel "Christian"
- "being British" and don't want to identify with other religions, apart from Christianity
- not keen to be identified as an atheist in hundreds of years' time
- believers in "God" in a generalised kind of way
- believers that most religions are the same - but that Jesus Christ is a familiar face for "safe" religion
- disenchanted and/or backslidden believers
- unable to get to Church (e.g. groups like Sunday workers, the elderly and disabled)
- committed believers in Christ (solely).
My suspicion is that the vast majority of the 41million are also attracted to Christ's Personality and compassion. Jesus remains a supreme model and ideal to vast numbers of people. As Bernard Levin once said "He still looms over the world". However, many may have never clearly grasped His whole personality or His actual teaching. Many fear pursuing Him, any further. For example, if they go further, they might be subject to restraints on their freedom and personal choice, such as:
- no sex outside marriage (ref Jesus on adultery and Apostle Paul)
- you must marry a fellow believer (Apostle Paul)
- you must obey your husband (Apostle Paul)
The possibility that God considers the Law as necessary and tough - for weak modern "flesh" - never strikes them. They seem unaware that God, in His compassion, is able to help people adhere to Him, through faith and the blessings He otherwise gives. Neither do they see that Church as a good place to meet attractive, loving and faithful spouses - though one cannot treat it as a match-making agency. Churches have many delightful, honest, capable, often presentable members of both sexes, without a spouse - of all ages.
Clearly, many of the 41m people respect bits of the Christian faith, such as Christmas and Easter, and many sometimes treasure Christ, in their hearts at home. The question is : are they "eligible" as Christians? Jesus said to some people who had been doing "stuff" in His name: "Away from me: I never knew you". I would not hazard an answer, as only God knows if someone is a real Christian.
The issue with cherry-picking Christianity, the position of world-bent compromise which is neither fish nor fowl, is that one misses the blessings of God.
One of the prime blessings of God is the "reverse of the curse" - having a defence against the Serpent, not just through Christ's Cross, but in identifying the evil that masquerades as truth. There are also a tools with which to fight it: answered prayer (which requires righteous and penitent suppliants).
There is the divine (biblical) gift of discernment which is true freedom - in a world of mirrors. Without wisdom, one is subject to every wind that blows. This is the "house built on sand" which when the flood comes, falls flat.
This is the situation in the UK today: much speculative building - spiritually speaking. Many people who have built their "house" on a spiritual flood plain. When the Deluge appears, they will find that everything they have and most value is swept away in an instant. Some of them (but not 41m) will be "eternally lost".
Matthew 7.4 Jesus said:Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. . .