I attended a college where they required you purchase a journal they printed so you could take notes during the preaching. Note taking wasn’t “required” but if the pastor happened to see that you were not taking notes while he was preaching he wouldn’t hesitate to call you out on it.
Anyway, this note taking journal always included a page on how to be a 5 Star Christian that listed these 5 things:
– Read God’s Word
– Attend church faithfully
– Witness to the lost
– Give (tithe)
I’m not sure where this list has its origins, but it is a common thing in the particular movement through which I was introduced to it. One church has this list given on its website and introduces the list with, “A great church is made up of strong Christians and strong Christian families” and then gives the list as what defines a strong Christian.
These five things are wonderful things to do, but the truth of the matter is that keeping this list religiously does not mean the one observing them is a good or strong Christian – or a Christian at all. The interesting thing is that Jesus didn’t say a good Christian is defined by one who religiously does those things; Jesus said the defining characteristic of His followers would be love. (John 17) He also tells us that the two great commandments are: loving the LORD with all our being and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Astounding as it may seem to some, Jesus nor the apostles taught that the strongest Christians are 5 star Christians. Experience agrees with this as some of the weakest professing believers I know make a point of keeping this list of 5 things. Their reading, prayer, giving, telling, and attending are done with a checklist motive. They mistake rule keeping for relationship and make obedience a substitute for love instead of the outgrowth of love. Instead of their acting because they love, they act in order to say they love. It’s the difference between a man buying his wife flowers because he loves her, and a man buying his wife flowers in attempts to show others how wonderful a husband he is. The first man is being the true husband, the other has a “5 Star” husband mentality.
Jesus tells us about a man in Scripture that had his own “5 Star” list. This “good” man’s prayer went like this, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
So what does Jesus have to say about these “5 Star” people? He said:
– They are white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones
– They are vipers and hypocrites
– They are people who make others a two-fold child of hell when they convert them to their ways
– He pronounced “woe” upon them because they shut up the kingdom of heaven and refuse to let men enter.
It should be apparent that the 5 star mentality doesn’t place one in good company. Jesus taught that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees (the “5 Star” people in that day) we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. The Pharisees thought that by keeping a “to do” list they ranked better on their child of God status than those who didn’t keep it closely while Jesus taught the exact opposite in his parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15) When the Pharisees were outraged that Jesus was eating, drinking, and befriending those were were no where near “5 Star” people He told them, “…go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
So, how does one be a 5 star Christian and go to hell? Merely be a “5 Star Christian”.
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ”