ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN GROUPIE?
By Ernest O'Neill
Are You a Christian Groupie?
By Rev. Ernest O'Neill
Can we be any clearer on what a nominal Christian is? Well, isn't it true that most of us reject the cliché that America is a Christian country? Most of us accept Schaeffer's view that there is no longer a consensus in this country that homosexuality is wrong, fornication and stealing are wrong, that selling arms to other countries to slaughter each other is wrong. There is no longer a consensus in America that these things are wrong. So, undoubtedly America is not a Christian country. We do not identify being American as being Christian. We might vaguely accept America as being a Christian country from the point of view of its public life being set against the background of Christianity rather than Hinduism or Islam, but we believe not every American is a Christian. But is it not true that many of you depend on your acceptance with God more on the company you keep then on your personal relationship to Jesus? Is it not true that most of us base our acceptance with God on the company we keep then on our personal relationship to Jesus? In other words, are there not many of us who say, "Well, I don't know if Jesus knows me, but I know He knows Billy Graham and I contribute to the Crusades? I don't know if He knows me personally or not, but I'm sure He knows Campus Church and He knows Pastor, and I'm a part of that. And when the body of Christ marches into Heaven, I'll march with them because I'm with them here."
Do you see how subtle it is? We who are brought up in a herd-instinct kind of society run a great risk of applying that to our own salvation. Is it possible that God's promises about reputation are not being made real in your life because you yourself are basing your acceptance with God and your salvation more on the company you keep, than on your personal relationship with Jesus? In other words, are you a "Christian groupie"? Really, are you a Christian groupie? Groupies are ones that associate with the famous so that they can be a part of the thrill end excitement of it all.
Are there any more clues that would help us to know? Well, I can see that many of us who are Christian groupies find ourselves requiring constant fixes. The hope of our salvation is based on our proving to our own satisfaction that we're one of "them". So when we go to Heaven we can say to the Lord, "We're with them, we're with them!" And because of that, we find we always have to be with them. So when Corrie ten Boom comes to the Twin Cities, we're there, we're there! So, Norman Vincent Peel comes to the Twin Cities-- we're there. So, Billy Graham comes to the Cities-- we're there! So wherever there are meetings there we are, because our salvation depends on our confidence that we are the same as them and that means constant reassurance, constant fixes from more and more meetings. Now the meetings are not the problem, although that can be tragic if it becomes a drug addiction or rather a frenetic occupation. The tragedy is not in attending the meetings, but the fact that we attend the meetings for our own sakes. We're constantly hoping that somewhere we will get something that will settle our stomachs; that we will get something that will, at last, give us peace inside, that will, at last, settle us, even though all this time we keep calling ourselves Christians.
And we are really like those people Paul talked about in his letter to Timothy. He said they will never arrive at the knowledge of the Truth because they listen to this man this time, and that woman that time, and the next man the next time. They believe what the last one they spoke to believed and they will never arrive at the knowledge of the Truth. Now that is one of the marks of a Christian groupie. It is serious even if you just suspect that you're in the situation, where you have no life in yourself so you try to constantly get it from other people. That should give you a clue that maybe you are a nominal Christian, and not really a Christian because fellowship to you is something that enables you to get rather than enables you to give something.
Do you see that? There is a lot of silly talk among us about fellowship. I know, bless your hearts, I love you but sometimes you say, "I can't do without fellowship, I can't do without fellowship". Sometimes I shudder inside because it sounds like a heroin addict - "I need another shot!" And really that is not the purpose of fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is that we would be able to minister together to others; so that I would be able to do something for somebody, and you'll be able to do something for somebody. Thus we would be able to complement one another in the life that God has given us. Fellowship is for giving not for getting. But many of us who are groupies regard fellowship as a means of getting what we should get from God. We have no direct relationship with God so we have to live off the second-hand experience of other people.
One of the other marks is even though we outwardly have some of the marks of a Christian, inwardly we lack many of those marks. We try to do what all the rest do, but inwardly we often fail to do those things. For instance, it is mentioned in Matthew, if you'd like to look at it. Jesus has shown me that this is the current example of our problem - Matthew 6:5-6, "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." A Christian groupie loves Bible study groups. He may have two or four going each week. He's not so keen on prayer meetings, but he can suffer them a little if there's a lot of singing. But the tragedy about a Christian groupie is, that he has no daily quiet time of his own. He has no real relationship with God of his own. And so he thinks he can work himself into good private Bible study by attending all kinds of Bible study groups. He thinks that the failure to get anything out of his Bible in his own quiet time is due to a lack of intellectual understanding and this he will get at a group meeting.
But the tragedy is that all he really is is a hypocrite. He's keeping the outward appearance of Bible study and prayer but inside in his own life, he lacks the mark of a real child of God. And so a Christian groupie often is worn out trying to please the opinion of the group to which he belongs. That group opinion often has more to do with his or her behavior then what the Lord Jesus wants them to do. Often they will live double lives. One way at home and another way in the group in order to continually please the group and get the approbation or acknowledgment of the group; and therefore get reassurance in their own hearts that they're the same as the group, and that they'll all go to heaven together. They become more and more preoccupied with men's opinions. So if you're preoccupied with men's approval, you're immediately open to being hurt by men's disapproval. So when you go to the office the next day, and somebody criticizes you, you have the highway wide open. You live, that's the basis of your Christianity. And so when somebody criticizes you, it cuts you right through, there is no defense, it just cuts you right open.
Now, Loved Ones, I can see that's why God is often not able to make His promises about happiness in the face of criticism real in some of our lives. Our own relationship with God is based more on being part of a group and on what the group thinks of us, then on any personal relationship to Jesus. Now would you think of that seriously? Start with the promises. Are there any promises that you feel God doesn't make real to you? Let me just put it straight to you - what about your reputation? Do you get hurt when people criticize you? Now stop pretending that that's human - that's carnal - that's not human. God's human beings were meant to walk with His approval and His acknowledgment alone necessary to their happiness. So it's not human - it's carnal. Now, do you get hurt when others criticize you, or when you are stabbed in the back? Now, loved ones, what I say to you is, without doing all kinds of big crisis examinations of your whole life, why not give yourself to Jesus anew this morning? Why not just say to Him, "Lord, some of the things that were said this morning apply to me Lord, I don't know just where I am, but I want to get on the right terms with you personally. Lord, I'm going to forget all my dependence on this group salvation stuff and I'm going to forget this business of whether I'm like Pastor or like somebody else or whether I'm in the group here. Lord, I went to be right with you myself. So, Lord Jesus, I confess my sins to you now, especially of this sin of depending on man's opinion instead of yours. Lord, I die to that. If you were willing to be insulted and to be treated as a common criminal on Calvary, and you want me to join you there, then I'm willing. I'm willing to be thought a fool or a failure forever. But Lord, I confess this sin now, I turn from it, I accept whatever you want me to accept in this life. And now will you give me your Holy Spirit and will you, Holy Spirit, come in and dwell in me and refresh me and enable me to have a personal relationship with God in my own private life. Loved Ones, I would just say to you, why not do that now?