I begin by asking for your patience to continue reading past my first opening sentence. Ready for it, here it is—Marginal Christianity is a bane upon this world. There, I wrote it; are you still with me? Let me try to explain. Of almost 40 years of knowing Jesus Christ I’ve noticed that believers (and a whole lot of folks outside the faith) understand exactly what marginal Christianity is! And of all those who have this knowledge only one thing is as certain as the sun rising—no two people will agree exactly on the definition of marginal Christianity. I remember in younger years my involvement with a Christian band. We were taught to shy away from playing “Rock” music. The funny thing was, nobody could give me a definitive answer as to what constitutes “Rock Music”—people just knew it when they heard it. How easy it is to label something you don’t like. If the music didn’t suit the individual’s taste, it was Rock music.
Marginal Christianity is very much the same; it’s like knowing good art when you see it! The instinctively assertive look at the inherently passive and imply “you’re not doing enough; you’re a marginal Christian.” All the while the passive returns the favor and points to the assertive and declares, “You’re way too legalistic.” Marginal Christianity generally comes in all shapes and sizes according to an individual’s discernment of God’s will. Of course the intensity varies from person to person, but the results are the same—a sad condemnation of loving brethren.
Here’s a thought—maybe marginal Christianity has nothing to do with how much or little one does. Could it be that deliverance from a marginal Christian life is as easy as the word surrender? What God is looking for are individuals that yield to him wholly; spirit, soul and body. That at least is what it appears Paul is instructing the Thessalonians when he writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Marginal Christianity is nonexistent in the sanctified life. Purity and holiness are visible as the surrendered heart lives in unobstructed service to Jesus—no matter the personality. I’ve met very godly people whom I would never had known existed but for some demonstration of surrendered service to God. Maybe surrender is setting up for a worship meeting on a Sunday. Perhaps yielding is slicing apples, or making lunches for God’s people to enjoy. Maybe surrender is just going about everyday life exhibiting a desire to live for Jesus! Surrender is that silent testimony of God’s grace striking fear into the heart of marginal Christianity every time it’s tried.
Simply put, marginal Christianity is the life that refuses to surrender everything to the One who gave everything. That’s the true bane upon the world. Paul again gives us a picture of what this surrender looks like. Romans 12:1-2 reads:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Deliverance from a marginal Christian life is really just that simple—total surrender. Folks who live without yielding everything to Jesus know who they are. No one needs to say to them “You’re not doing enough” thus labeling as a marginal Christian. It’s always a look at the Savior that inspires me to ask, “What more can I do for you, Lord?” and surrender to His will. If you sense a marginal Christianity in your life, the answer is not more doing but total surrender to Him. Let me finish with a quote from Andrew Murray:
God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you.
J. Robert Hanson