Back in the Jesus Movement days (circa 1967-1976 by my way of
thinking) I learned a word often used in traditional churches as much
as among Jesus freak people here and there. That word? “Nominal”.

It’s meaning: “being such in name only, so-called, (of a price,
consideration, etc.) named as a mere matter of form, being trifling in
comparison with the actual value, minimal.”

Had a nice conversation with someone the other day. Two things came up
I have thought about a lot over the years and the term “nominal”
popped into my head immediately.

The first part of the discussion was about “the good old days” when
(supposedly) people were more committed, when most everyone really
pitched in to do whatever work was needed, the sacrifices were great,
authentic and most everyone really lived out their faith. Part of the
idea was that somehow, the “rules” and “enforcement” as well as
heart-felt commitment of the people was greater than at present.

I laughed remembering those days… and told my bro. with many
examples flashing through my mind about how many of the early Jesus
People including many in our own local fellowship, flaked out early or
later on. They started with a heart for God but just as Jesus said re.
the parable of the sower, they allowed their minds and hearts to turn
back to old sin, or were tempted into fresh sins, or simply just gave
up and walked away from God and His call.

My point was that the idea of pristine discipleship based on -any-
formula has never been a reality. There have always been nominal
Christians, people who figured they were saved and now they could just
get on with whatever pleased -them-… therefore Jesus and His Word
became less of a priority.

My bro. said he thought sometimes people just drift away from Him and
aren’t even aware of their own spiritual condition.

My reply was short with no explanation: “Yes and no”.

I’m not so sure people backslide with zero idea they’re doing so.

The dog you feed is the one that grows. The one you starve doesn’t
control the show.

Sure, “the little foxes” enter in, but Psalm 1 is as clear as can be
about how we live- either closer to the Lord or farther away. Choices,
all sorts of small daily choices link us closer. We merely talk or we
walk. Then again, some who are not surrendering to a deeper walk are
so ashamed they don’t even talk.

So this has been my experience over the years. Nothing new under the sun.

But if we think that some sort of law and enforcement fixes moral
heart-conditions, if we really think law can cure our self-centered,
spiritually anemic soul, how is it that the Bible itself over and over
again proclaims “the law” isn’t sufficient for such “fixes”.

In fact, neglect of reading and applying the Word of God in your life
is the surest way I know to become (or grow in) a lethargic, “hey- I’m
saved, what more do you want” sort of nonsense!

Don’t be naive, there have ALWAYS been nominal Christians, people who
prayed the prayer, showed up in a building with others, sometimes for
years… who never grew as disciples of Jesus Christ.

There is no formula, no one-size-fits-all to answer this but the
basics of the Christian faith:

The Holy Spirit and His Word calls us to repent, believe, be baptized,
follow Jesus, remain in His Word, in love obey His commands and trust
Him for everything that pertains to life, both spiritual an otherwise.

There are those who believe and walk in this way and those who do not.
There are those who walk in the Spirit and those who only want His
“touch” now and then.

Relationships aren’t about one-time experiences. They are about a
long, steady (if rocky) walk, hand-in-hand.

When we choose friends who live closely to Him, it is of great help-
but there is no guarantee but continued, conscious renewal in the
Spirit that we are both open to and seeking out… can prevent us from
a nominal, washed-out spiritual life.

As the old Blind Willie Johnson song says it- “Nobody’s fault but mine.”

Let’s choose wisely. Let’s choose HIM and HIS way!

Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn


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