Are you Christian, or Christian-ish? What’s the difference? The Christian-ish is a phenomenon I’ve grown far too familiar with in my 8 years ministering in Texas. The Christian-ish are those who will tell you they claim Jesus, but don’t show any fruit of their claim.

Christian-ish people assemble with the church… sometimes. Sundays are hard to give up though, you know? There’s so much to do, and the work week is so packed. So the Christian-ish make it when they “can.” Long gone is the concept that God gets first place on the calendar and everything else falls in line behind the time we make for Him. There’s no time for the event of “assembly,” much less the more Biblical habit of “assembling” (Hebrews 10:25).

Christian-ish people show little to no visible life change. They have the same priorities as their non-Christian neighbors. Same way of talking. Same hobbies and interests. Same dress. Same goals for themselves and their kids. Same entertainment. Being transformed by the renewing of their mind is not a consideration. No, they are still conformed to this world.

Christian-ish people are not afraid to say they like Jesus. Oddly, though, despite their unwillingness to buckle down and really follow Jesus, the Christian-ish still like to appear Christian. They post images of Bible verses or religious quotes to their social media. They like politicians, athletes, and celebrities who say positive things about God. I ran across perhaps the most extreme example of this recently – a Facebook profile of a neighbor who posted about their love for marijuana, getting drunk, and more, only to throw in the odd Bible verse and church livestream post. The cognitive dissonance is baffling. If asked, I’m certain they would have considered themselves “Christian.”

A climate that has been positive toward Christianity, or “cultural Christianity” as it’s often called, created this cheap grace phenomenon. People could consider themselves Christians without any Christlikeness, church members without any church commitment. It’s the illusion of being a branch that has no duty to bear fruit. A child of God without any duty to one’s Father. In fact, there was motivation to do so because nominally claiming Christianity bestowed outward benefit and (a false sense of) inward peace. All the perceived benefits, none of the sacrifice.

Growing up in a region that was neutral toward Christianity, we didn’t really have people like this. They are a product of a local culture that is positive toward Christianity, a type of local culture almost exclusive to the Bible Belt. But as my neutral hometown has now slipped into negativity toward Christianity, many of these Bible Belt areas have begun to move from positive to neutral. Christianity doesn’t have the cultural cachet it once did, and will likely have even less of it in the future. (See Aaron Renn’s useful Positive/Neutral/Negative breakdown here.)

In other words, Christian-ish people aren’t going to exist within a generation. When there exists a social cost for being a Christian, the only people who will be Christians are those who are truly all-in for Christ. What that means is, time is running out to choose. The longer a person remains on the fence, the closer they inch to their inevitable abandonment of the faith. Today’s Christian-ish are tomorrow’s ex-Christians. The lukewarm Jesus will vomit from His mouth.

Make your choice today. Put Jesus first. Repent of lukewarmness. Commit to your local church. Be with them every Sunday and as often as you can in between. Throw out any practices or attitudes that are contrary to God’s Word. Bottom line, don’t be Christian-ish.