I have a confession to make. I was normal today. Not just normal, but completely invisible. I woke up this morning, put on some nice clothes, ate some cereal, and headed off to church. I walked into the sanctuary some five or ten minutes after service started, slid into a pew way over on the side of the room, and listened to the band and the preacher. One hour later, I left, went home, and went on with my life. No one ever knew I was there.
Sound familiar? Too much so for me. I can’t help but wonder how many of the thousands of people in that megachurch do this every week. How many people think church is something that happens for an hour every Sunday? How many think it’s an event or even a building? How many Christians try their hardest to blend in, to avoid being noticed? Too many.
This isn’t what the church is supposed to be. The early church didn’t even have buildings! Instead, they met in small groups, in people’s homes. Instead of one person teaching, every believer had something to bring. Far from confining their faith to an hour on Sunday, the first Christians devoted their whole lives and all their possessions to God. They shared everything among themselves, and gave to those in need. Church wasn’t an event - it was the living, breathing body of Christ incarnated in this group of Jesus-followers doing life together.
It’s not that I have a problem with megachurches. There are plenty of sincere followers of Jesus that belong to a large church. There are plenty that get involved - they join a small group or home group (which looks a lot like the early church) and get to know other believers on a level much deeper than the superficial. They serve where they’re needed: on the worship team, the prayer team, in children’s ministry, as a greeter in the parking lot, or numerous other roles. Most importantly, their faith is personal - they pray and study the Bible at home, and are genuinely in love with God. They also urge others to do the same. These are not the people I have a problem with. It’s the invisible Christians that I have a problem with.
I can name too many people that I’ve known for months or years before discovering they’re Christians. If you have to mention it to someone before they even suspect it, huge red flags and sirens should be going off in your head. If you as a Christian look and act just like everyone else, what good is that to anyone? Matthew 5:13 asks the same question: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Who ever heard of salt that isn’t salty? Once you taste it, it’s obvious whether it’s salt or not. You can’t be unsure.
Christians should be the same way. We should be so salty that everyone that sees us knows there is something different. Instead of “Wait, you’re a Christian?” we should be hearing “I knew you were a Christian the first time I saw you.” If we truly have the Lord of the universe living in us and directing us, it should be blindingly obvious! Other people should be able to see Jesus in us without us even mentioning His name! The very word Christian means “little Christ” - this was not a title the early followers claimed, but one nonbelievers gave them. Even those who didn’t believe that Jesus is God could see that these people looked a lot like him.
And really, how could they not? How could they encounter the love of God so bluntly without being permanently changed by it? How could the men who walked with Jesus possibly go back to being fishermen? How could the disciples who were baptized by the Holy Spirit and allowed God to work miracles through them ever go back to “normal” life? How can anyone who carries the name “little Christ” and has dedicated their life to Him in baptism possibly stay the same?
Maybe they don’t believe what they say - not just accept in their minds that it’s true, but actually live out the consequences. Maybe their picture of Jesus is distorted. Maybe they’re afraid to become visible, afraid standing out will put a huge target on their backs. Maybe they just never really allowed God to change them. Maybe they have, but then they let religious routine replace a love relationship.
If you’ve been reading this and realizing you’re an invisible Christian, I hope it deeply bothers you. I hope that every time you pass up a chance to be different, to be visible, that you will immediately wish you had taken that chance. More than that, however, I hope that you will start taking those chances and seizing those opportunities. I hope that an hour on Sunday won’t be enough for you anymore - that you’ll realize something is still missing and search for that something until you find it.
If that’s you, I hope you’ll pray and ask God to take you deeper, into something meaningful. Before you do, though, you have to be willing to go with Him. You don’t have to be ready - He’ll give you the strength to do whatever He calls you to, if you let Him - just willing.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
– Romans 12:1-2