One sunny morning, while Milo took me for a walk, God spoke. In His quiet, inimitable way God said, “Many of my people are paper Christians.” I stopped. Milo stopped. The crickets chirped and the soft breeze wafted by. A thunderbolt had just exploded out of nowhere into my brain and stopped me cold. God looks at those He calls His own and calls them, “paper Christians”?
I had to dig through the memory vaults to understand where God was taking me.
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
Many years ago, I was employed as an adult technical trainer at a computer technology training firm. When I first started I knew very little about computers. After a good deal of educating myself and practical experience, I rose through the ranks. By 1995, I was one of the few advanced technical trainers at PBSC, Edmonton. They required me to pass many tests in my journey to become properly certified. One such prized certification was called the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, or MCSE.
Microsoft introduced this program to accredit those with the required technical knowledge. The MCSE program involved a number of technical courses; and then written exams to prove that the student had the proper knowledge. Once students passed their exams, they could then use the coveted title of MCSE after their names. At the time, the MCSE certification was a guarantor of a great income. I gained that certification early on and from there built a program at the training company I worked for in order to train others.
At first, the students enrolled in the MCSE program were already proficient technical people. These people just needed the certification to prove to future employers that they had the requisite skills to manage and deal with technical server infrastructures. As time passed, however, I saw a gradual decline in the quality of students, and their skill levels. Many of these students just wanted the MCSE certification to get a lucrative job. They passed the tests, but lacked real world technical experience. The students had head knowledge; but lacked practical skill. They were so ill-equipped that I had one employer tell me he would not allow even one of these MCSE graduates into his server room.
Wanda and I called these students, “paper MCSEs”. Great on paper, useless in life.
Where is faith?
On my walk I thought back to those MCSE students. They had no foundation because they had no practical experience. They had placed the goal above the journey thus missing out on a great opportunity. Now here God was equating a practical lesson I had from my past, into the broader world of Christians. I was stunned at the connection. God was saying that the value a believer has is not in what the believer knows; but the depth of faith experience they have acquired.
- How many believers today think the journey of spiritual maturity, into becoming an adult son of God, is worth taking; when they can just call themselves a Christian with no apparent cost?
- How many take the name of Christ, and will also take on His character?
- How many will lay aside all that they have, to gain the experiential faith as a follower of Jesus?
We suspect not many, and now understand why God calls His people “paper Christians”. They may have all types of knowledge and facts, but how practical is their knowledge? Do they know what it is like to trust God for their daily food and shelter, their concern for family and friends, or protection from violent people or situations?
In meeting many “paper Christians” over the years, we now realize these people really don’t know Jesus, and their faith is worthless.
This revelation that God sees many of His own as mere paper cut outs is gravely disturbing. Our family has paid a very high price to walk in a journey of uncompromising faith. The wisdom we have gained has not come from books, but from the deep well of personal experience, and an intimate relationship with Jesus. We have sacrificed everything to follow Him, but He is worth all that we gave. The believer that follows Jesus in faith will gain a quality of character that cannot be forged.
- “Paper Christians” lack the depth of maturity that come from practical experiences of faith.
- “Paper Christians” sacrifice the experience of faith for the knowledge of faith.
- “Paper Christians” choose titles over character.
- “Paper Christians” desire ease and comfort over patient endurance.
Instead of returning to God His due, for what He has done for them, these “paper Christians” are content to sit on their ‘certifications’ and claim they follow Him. They are woefully unprepared for the dark days ahead.
In Isaiah 5:1-7 and in Matthew 21:33-41 God uses two parables about a vineyard, to help us understand the folly of being a “paper Christian”. He uses the picture of a vineyard that has been planted and cared for by the Master. In both parables, the fruit the Master required from the vines does not come forth. The consequence was that God destroyed the vineyard, because it produced no good fruit.
Please understand the seriousness of this picture. God is looking for the fruit of faith, the quality of character, in us, that reflects Jesus. Nothing less than this standard will do. Knowledge, titles, or achievements, are not the fruit He wants or expects. The only fruit He will accept as good, is the fruit of complete faith in Him.
God does not want or need “paper Christians”. What God is looking for is the good fruit of practical, experiential faith lived out daily in our lives.
What will you choose?
There are many believers in this world that are “paper Christians”. They believe they only have to say Jesus’ name, and they will have a heavenly reward. How is it with you? Today is the day when you can begin the real journey of faith that goes beyond books, scholars, teachers, and religion. A journey that will take you into a living, vibrant relationship with a God who is passionately in love with you. This will bring an end to ‘self’, and give you a testimony of experiential uncompromising faith. The process will move you from a one-dimensional cutout to a person who lives their faith daily. This is your opportunity to move beyond “paper Christianity.” Will you go?
Homer and Wanda
This Post Has 22 Comments
I used to be a “paper Christian.” God and I had “an understanding.” What I didn’t realize is I had NO understanding and His understanding would crush me in that day I stood before Him. Finally realizing I was living a lie (when I went to my current church and was preached the actual Word of God), God transformed me by renewing my mind and giving me His understanding of where I stood with Him. Been a concrete Christian ever since. Good Word.
Awesome! Glad to hear this. May our Father continue to bless you with His wonderful presence! Thank you so much.
What a clear parallel! There is so much more to this journey than just the decision in the beginning. “It’s not just fire insurance!”
And if we are not intentional on a daily basis, we will stay ‘Paper Christians’ and make no (helpful) impact on the lost.
Thank you so much! You are so right.
May His love fill you to overflowing today!
Homer, this post mirrors the message in my post this week. This stood out to me: God does not want or need “paper Christians”. What God is looking for is the good fruit of practical, experiential faith lived out daily in our lives. The word is clear when it says; “By their fruit ye shall know them.” This is a serious matter that definitely needs to be addressed especially in this day and time. Walking in uncompromising faith comes with a high price tag but it is so worth it. Blessings to you. Great post.
Thank you so much Yvonne for this wonderful encouragement. May He bless you too!
Great encouragement to truly seek God and have relationship with Him. It isn’t always easy, but I think we all have areas where we are functioning as “paper Christians.” I’m so grateful for God’s grace to pursue me in each of these areas!
Amen Rebecca. You are so very right. There are many thrones in our soul room that must be surrendered to Him. May we so yield to His perfect will! He is so faithful to continue drawing us even as we stray. Thank you so much for this and may your blessings overflow today!
I love the walk, the word, and the wonder. Been there. I enjoyed this piece.
Thank you and blessings to you!
What a perfect analogy! God doesn’t want us to fill up churches, he wants us to fill our lives with him so that we can start the business of loving his people (and my ‘his,’ I mean ALL people).
🙂 Yes, may it be so. Thank you so much.
May the Lord bless you and keep you!
A very serious but true analogy. Thanks Homer
You are very welcome Gary. Thank you and bless you!
Great analogy! Maybe we could be Lego Christians — those things are indestructible. 🙂
🙂 I love LEGO! Blessings to you!
Thanks for reading my post on mold. 🙂 This post of yours is very good, and sadly so true. Living a life of faith is on my heart big time, and God has definitely provided the opportunities to grow! Growing pains are tough, but at the same time a joyful experience. I always try to encourage others to draw closer to God in a real way, but my efforts don’t always land, but it’s the Holy Spirit that does the miracles. I just get to be one of the fortunate ones who gets to share the good news. So that’s the plan…keep speaking and growing. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Paper Christians miss out on SO many blessings–intimacy with God, his peace that transcends understanding, effervescent joy in spite of circumstances, contentment, and more. Praise Him for offering us the good fruit of experiential faith!
Thank you Nancy! May His blessings overflow in your life.
This has always upset me. People that claim to be a believer but spread gossip about a neighbor and dont act out of love.
This is powerful! Over the last decade, the Lord has been teaching me about uncompromised faith. A sort of let’s get back to the basics of Christianity and the foundations of our faith in Jesus Christ. So your analogy to the computer students really drives home the point. I never want to call myself a Christ-follower and yet only look good on paper. And I sure don’t care about looking “good” to the world. I care about my life matching what’s in Scripture. I care about walking the walk, not just talking the talk. I care about following Christ and His ways, Sunday through Saturday, 24/7. In the end, I want to look more and more like Jesus as I grow in my Christian faith. If we miss that, we’ve missed the true meaning of the word CHRISTian.
Most excellent Karen. We stand with you in your journey. May many be inspired to follow Jesus likewise. Blessings to you sister!