The question originally came from an unsigned slip of paper turned in during a congregational survey when I served as pastor in Oak Park, Illinois.
Whoever wrote this question deserves an A+ for creativity and for getting right to the point.
The wording suggests that there is a fundamental difference between being religious and being a “real Christian.” Many people have trouble with that concept because they think that if you are religious, then you must be a “real Christian.” If you asked such people, “Are you a Christian?” they would reply, “I’m a church member” or “I’ve been baptized” or “I go to Sunday School” or “I go to Mass every week.” But those answers raise another important question. Is being a Christian simply a matter of outward activity?
During Christ’s ministry, one religious leader named Nicodemus struggled with this question. He visited Jesus at night because he had heard Jesus speak and knew that He had something to offer a religious man like himself; a man with an aching void in his heart that only God could reach. You can read more about this important encounter in John 3 and what it means for each one of us in the following sermon.