"I’m not a Real Christian, But I Play One On Sunday."
You may remember those old TV commercials that featured a television actor – typically in some popular “doctor show”– who was pitching a new pill, potion or medical procedure. The commercial began with the pseudo-doc, complete with white smock and stethoscope, saying, “I’m not a real doctor, but I play one on TV.” The fact that he played a doctor on a weekly TV show somehow added credibility to his product recommendation. No doubt, after hearing the pitch, thousands of folks rushed off to the nearest pharmacy and demanded whatever dandruff shampoo, headache powder or antacid the trustworthy Dr Kildare recommended.
Who knows how many people thought Ben Casey, James Kildare and Marcus Welby were actually doctors? The advertisers, no doubt, depended on the power of that false impression to sell their product.
Somewhat like those TV doctors, there are some folks who show up for worship services on Sunday morning looking, talking and acting the part of a Christian. In reality, they are only pretending. They are not really Christians. They are only playing one on Sunday.
Also, like the TV doctor, such folks are selling a product. The product is hypocrisy. They are making an outward show of piety in an effort to convince their friends, family, other Christians and maybe even themselves that they are faithful Christians, when in fact, they are not. Jesus warned that hypocrites would not escape the condemnation of hell (Matt 23:33).
Attending worship services on Sunday, looking , talking and acting like a Christian is certainly important, but the real proof of our devotion to God must be evidenced every day. We must be faithful throughout the week in all that we do. In Colossians 3:16 Paul discusses one aspect of our public worship as he instructs us to, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God.” Verse 17, however, then goes on to remind us, “. . .whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” “Whatever you do in word or deed” certainly includes more than our appearance at and behavior in the public worship assembly. Fact is, we must be faithful every day.
Followers of Christ are taught to pray daily (Mt 6:11). Jesus taught his disciples on a daily basis (Mt 26:55). We must “take up our cross daily (Lk 9:23), continue daily in Christian fellowship and the apostles doctrine (Acts2:42,46), search the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11), and exhort one another daily (Heb 3:13). The daily devotion of the apostle Paul was such that he was willing to “die daily” if necessary for the cause of Christ (1 Cor.15:30,31).
If our devotion to Christ is but that of a “Sunday only” Christian there will not be much credibility behind our effort to influence others for Christ. There will not be much progress in our desire to grow in Christ, and there will not be much praise in our worship of God.
The hypocrisy of “playing a Christian on Sunday” rather than being a Christian seven days a week should be a matter of concern to all of us. We all struggle with being consistent in our Christian walk. (And let it be said that not everyone who “talks the talk” but does not “walk the walk” is playing the hypocrite. A person who appears to be a hypocrite may simply be weak or ignorant in spiritual things. A young Christian or a new convert may simply not know how he is supposed to live. He may simply stand in need of more teaching.) Living up to Christ’s standard of morality and behavior is a difficult task that requires daily effort. We can help ourselves in the area of sincere faithfulness seven days a week and avoid playing the hypocrite on Sunday by adopting the following practices in our daily life.
Every day we need to pray earnestly, sincerely and at length. I’m not saying that we need to literally spend hours in prayer every day (even though Jesus certainly did on occasion Mk 1:35; Lk 6:12; Mt 14:23-25; Lk 5:16), but we do need to do more than briefly “say our prayers” before we go to bed each night. If we are living under with the impression that overcoming our spiritual obstacles and reaching our spiritual goals are challenges that require no more than a few seconds of prayer each day then we are not facing the reality of our situation and Satan probably has us hook, line and sinker; lock, stock and barrel.
We also need daily Bible study (Acts 17:11; Jn 5:38,39). I think most Christians would be embarrassed if a poll were taken measuring how much time we actually spend studying God’s word each day. Why not conduct a private poll on yourself. Simply ask, “How much time am I spending in God’s word each day or each week.” If you see room for improvement, make the improvements.
Each day we should also try to become more spiritual. Col. 3:1-2 admonishes us to “seek those things which are above” and to ”set our mind on things above.” Phil. 4:8 gives us a list of spiritual objectives that are worthy of our meditation and practice.
Doing something each day to help someone else is a good way to avoid the pit-fall of hypocrisy. If we are going to sing hymns at Sunday worship services about serving Christ and others, about our duties toward friend and foe, then actually doing some of those good deeds (Gal 6:10) would help us establish consistency between that “talk” and that “walk” that we have been discussing.
By applying these practical spiritual goals to our daily life we can become more of what God expects us to be. Working harder to become that spiritual person who is living in step with the example of our Lord will keep us from being a hypocrite. Don’t be the person that says, “I’m not a Christian, I only play one on Sunday.”