For a major portion of my Christian life one of my biggest concerns and prayers have been for the Christians who aren't. We don't have to name names. I wouldn't want to try. But you know the type. They go to church or went to church. They often call themselves Christians. They're often quite sure they are. They may even be really nice people. But there's something ... missing. Something absent. They don't seem to actually have a living, active relationship with the living Christ. It's more of a system or even an unconscious thing with them. They nod and they go through the motions and all, but you can't really say that there is the Spirit of God residing in that person. It's not a sure thing, of course. I mean, each of us feels spiritually drab at times. You may just have some nagging concern at the back of your mind. "Do you really know Jesus?" And it's not a judgmental thought; it's a genuine concern for the well-being of someone you care about.
I'm convinced that there are a lot of people these days that believe themselves to be Christians and go through the motions and say the right things that don't actually know Christ. It's not actually my idea. It was Jesus who said, "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matt 7:22-23) See that? "Many". Now, you know they didn't think they were going to pull a fast one on Jesus. No, they actually believed they were "in". But they aren't. It is possible to think you're saved and be saved. It is possible to think you're not saved and not be saved. It is possible to be saved but not think you are. But by far the most difficult category is the one that is filled with people who think they are saved, but they're not.
These people are in our churches and in our lives. We care about them deeply. They may be blood relatives or good friends. And anyone who has a heart would be concerned that anyone they love would know Christ. But this group is a special problem. We can share the gospel with the unsaved and it is new to them at least in some sense. But this group has heard it. "You know," you might say, "you need Jesus." And they would agree and assure you that they already have Him. Or they might be offended that you would question them. Because they know they're in the faith. They have been immunized, so to speak. They got the seed, the germ, a little bit of weakened Christianity that allows them to build up a tolerance and now they're immune to your preaching because they think they have it.
I've known these people. I talked to a coworker who told me, "Oh, yeah, I tried that Jesus stuff. It didn't work." Immunized. I know a guy who was raised in a good Christian home, went to church regularly, was part of the groups, even taught a Bible study. He's an atheist now. What can you say to him that he hasn't heard? What new information can you bring to the table that might help him to see? Immunized. I know a sweet old lady who goes to church every Sunday and is nice and kind and all that. She isn't much for praying and she's not really interested in being involved in Christian things, but she's quite sure she's a Christian. Immunized. Christianity for many of these is just another religion. Be good and everything will go fine. What's the big deal? They've probably heard the truth over and over, but they didn't actually hear it. No ears, I suppose (Matt 11:15).
I pray for these people. They're confused. They think they have the truth, but they're missing the key ingredient -- Christ. I don't know the words to offer them. I can't change them. But I know Who can. So I pray hard for them and try to keep the lines of communication open. Every once in a while I've seen someone, content in their non-Christianity, suddenly come face to face with Christ and wake up. He can do that. So I pray and wait.