Are You a Christian In Name Only?

My protests don’t seem to matter. I keep getting put in the role of teaching a bible class as if being ordained actually makes you good at this. I’ve explained how it might be important for a bible study teacher to be able to recall, when questions arise, verse references. I can’t. Hardly ever. But, again, I accepted the request to teach. Though a more accurate description would be “lead” a discussion that, most of the time, is centered on something from the bible.

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The class members are made up of men living in a residential program run by The Salvation Army. Most of the men are working a recovery program for substance abuse. Faith and biblical knowledge aren’t required. This works in my favor.

I learn from discussion. I learn from hearing others share their understanding, their beliefs, their questions. It focuses and brings clarity to my beliefs.  I value this kind of exchange.

I don’t hesitate if I can’t answer their questions and I find they appreciate my lack of pretense. Often, we’ll search together for the answer. We’re learning together that some answers haven’t been revealed but call for our faith in the unseen, yet loving, God.


One week, Kev called me over before chapel. He said he’d been thinking about our class discussion. We chatted a bit about the topic which had been ‘following Jesus’. He said, “Your husband will ask if our sponsor is real or in name only and that made me think, are we Christians, or in name only.”

Are we?

Some identify as Christian because they aren’t Catholic or Jewish. For many, the word identifies a group of people, not a way of living.

In research conducted by the Barna group, three in ten people are described as “practicing Christians“, people who say their Christian faith is very important in their lives and attend church at least once a month. In their book, Good Faithauthors David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons share their findings from the research that  Christians today are described as irrelevant and extreme. (chapter 2)

Perhaps this perception comes from us being the name-only kind of Christians. The kind who talk about love but don’t support their words with actions.

“But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.” Bob Goff, Love Does

1 Corinthians 13 gives the most complete description on what love does, and doesn’t, do. Imagine if we conducted ourselves in this way:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. vs. 4-7 the Message

I’m not a degreed educator. Teacher is a name I wear.  I want to be more than a name-only Christian. I want my actions to show it more than my words. I want it to be seen more than heard. I have a long way to go, but I’m pressing on.

What about you?

“Simply put: love does.” Bob Goff


More about Debby Hudson

Where do you find grace? Inside the church walls? Around the dinner table with your family? For years, grace was not much more than the prayer we said before meals or a biblical concept. Then I met a group of men who had, as we say, reached bottom. They welcomed me to Graceland. They showing me grace can be found in the darkest of places. I'm still searching and learning. I hope you'll want to come along.

8 thoughts on “Are You a Christian In Name Only?

  1. judikruis

    I like that kind of teaching – where its mutual discovery. And especially with the Bible… sometimes those who haven’t learned from lots of others, have greater insight to share. Bless you for stepping up in so many ways to help others discovery life!


    1. Debby Hudson

      I’m sure I learn more in a group, Judi, so it’s good for me too.


  2. Linda Stoll

    Yes and amen, Debby. We’re pressing on. We certainly haven’t arrived, have we. We’re being stretched and grown in the process.

    I think He is pleased … I think He says ‘well done.’


    1. Debby Hudson

      Stretched and grown is a good way to put it, Linda. There’s even growing pains at times but hindsight is also a good teacher.


  3. Valerie Sisco at Grace with Silk

    Hi Debby,
    Great thoughts to ponder here! I have so much growth to do in that area — working on extending grace and showing more love –it’s something I really have to work on, but I’m grateful for tiny steps of forward progress. Thanks for writing these words today!


  4. Janice

    Your thought reveal to me all the areas of my life I need to grow. What a challenge and only accomplished with grace and being willing to be taught.


    1. Debby Hudson

      You know, Janice, I’m writing to myself more than anything. Seeing areas where I’m getting complacent…oh, there are so many! But I don’t want to just carry the name Christian. I know your life is living it out, my friend.


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