Second-hand Christianity

“Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’” Exodus 20:19

In recent times I have met a person who brought to mind a term that I had not thought of or used for many years – a Second-hand Christian.

The song “Second-hand Rose” had some application to me as I received many hand-me-downs from my older brother. Both he and my younger sister always seemed to get new clothes but rarely me. One never seemed to really own that which was second-hand.

Israel was quite happy to receive the message second-hand through Moses. If God spoke directly to them there would be no question of authenticity and they would be held fully to account. By getting the message second-hand they could always question Moses’ ability to accurately communicate the message, his integrity or blame him if things went wrong.

There are multitudes in all religions that are quite happy to hear from a man what he perceives as truth but not hear directly from God Himself. The sad thing is that many Christians do exactly the same. They may attend church and listen to a preacher; they may listen to recorded sermons and even read Christian books but they will not hear from God directly for fear they will be held accountable to the truth.

The second-hand Christian of my recent acquaintance says he hasn’t time to read the Bible and pray daily but can listen to recorded sermons at times.  It would seem necessary to doubt that he really is a Christian.

A second-hand Christian is like a second-hand spouse. That is, a man does not live with his wife and neither does he communicate directly with her. All communication is through a third party. Would that be an intimate marital relationship? Of course not and neither is second-hand Christianity.

Is your Christianity first-hand or second-hand? Do you listen to, and speak with our Lord, through reading the Bible and prayer or is it built on gleaning information heard second-hand? The second-hand Christian I speak of is in error in many areas of doctrine and his behaviour reveals that he has little idea of true Christian living. He has made himself dependent upon another fallen human being when he could be dependent on Jesus Christ and His Word.

The Israelites thought that if they heard God directly they would die. The exact opposite would have been the case. If they both heard and received the Word of God they would know life.

Life is found only in being a first-hand Christian.

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