''Do you go to church?'' he asked me, as I dropped off freight at his business. He's a regular customer, but we'd never ventured beyond chatting about weather and work. A bit surprised by the abruptness of the question, I replied Yes, and he offered a few more queries, like what I believe about Jesus, and how we are saved, and whatnot. I gave him the digest version of book-length answers, and we exchanged a few pious platitudes afterward. As I started to leave for my next stop, he told me he suspected I might be a Christian because I had a ''certain demeanor.'' A certain demeanor. I haven't the foggiest idea what that means, or even what demeanor has to do with Christianity. But it got me to thinking. And the conclusion I came to is that if most outsiders were to review my life, read my thoughts, and record every word and action of my day, they would conclude, at best, that I'm an occasional Christian.
Yes, most Sundays you'll find me warming a pew. I sing the hymns (if I like them). I pay half-ass attention the sermon. I suppose I’d do okay on Bible trivia, and have been rumored to know a thing or two about Hebrew. Once upon a time, I even had Rev. as a prelude to my name. But all that doesn’t mean much. In fact, it can be highly misleading.
For there are whole days that go by when I think, speak, and act as if this life were all there were, and as if the heavens were vacant of divinity. My prayers, when they do come to life, take on the nature of 9-1-1 calls, offered up frantically in cases of personal emergency, not as anything remotely resembling an ongoing conversation with my heavenly Father. As ridiculous as it sounds, I confess to you that I read a hundred more Facebook statuses every day than verses from God's word. If the creed of Christianity were based upon my life, it would confess a Lord who is pleased with the crumbs that fall from his servant's table.
Somewhere the Psalmist prays, ''Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.'' That seems to be just about as perfect a prayer as you can find. For it is a divided heart that divorces me from complete fidelity to God, and replaces fear with fickleness. So from my sick, divided heart wheezes a prayer for a strong, united one. And I beg for a clean start—for the millionth time. And for more faith, even though it scares me to death to think of what trials God has in mind by which to increase my faith. I pray to be more than an occasional Christian, to live a life that is more a model than a mockery of the Lord in whose image I was made. And as I pray, I cling to the only true, ever-faithful, always-believing person I know, whose constant Christianity earned him a cross, on which he guaranteed that all my imperfections won't change his heart, united in love for me.