David C. Cook, 2009
According to wiktionary, the adverb 'ish' is used to express doubt about the complete accuracy or truth of what precedes it. Thus, 'Christianish' suggests 'somewhat or fairly Christian' - not Christian at all really, because there is no acceptable halfway to following Jesus. God says in Revelation 3:16 that 'because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.' Middle of the road is not a good or safe place to be.
In Christianish: What if We’re Not Really Following Jesus at All?, author Mark Steele encourages the reader to move away from this mediocre Christianity and to live the real deal. He admits his own failures and tells of his personal journey to living a life that’s centered on Christ. “Somewhere along the road, I stopped being a ‘little Christ’ and instead began filling out the application that I had labeled ‘Christian.’ It was not a definition based on the actual namesake but, rather, on those who frequent the clubhouse. I allowed Jesus to seep into my church world—but not my relational world, my romance world, my business world, my creative world, my habits, my mouth. I had become Christianish.”
Christianish may feel like authentic faith. Yet it’s often easy to settle for the souvenir t-shirt—the appearance of a transformed heart—instead of taking the actual trip through true life-change. We find ourselves being contented with a personal faith that’s been polluted by culture and diluted by other people’s take on spirituality.
In Christianish, Mark details the tell-tale symptoms of being Christian-like and revisits the words and life of Christ to deliver a compelling look at what authentic faith is all about. Each chapter begins with a personal story that is often humorous, and follows up with a piercing truth about the life we are called to live in Christ. The book concludes that "There is only one way for us to discover the right way to travel the right road. The way is not church. The way is not an ideology. The way is not Christian. The way is Jesus.”
Here are a couple of my favourite passages from the book:
"Conviction without love is just an angry opinion. Conviction with love proves that what is true is also alive. That it is not only a code, but a transformative power. Conviction alone needs desperately to be proven accurate at all costs. In short, it only survives when it wins. And unfortunately for our opinion, Christ has called us to be losers." (p. 158)
"To this end we have begrudged and distanced ourselves. From God. From faith. From one another. And as we do, the Enemy wins. Because he has been able to distract us away from the very core idea of following Jesus: that we only truly gain when gain is not what we are after, and we only find answers for ourselves when we are being the answers for someone else." (p. 172)
Mark Steele is the president and executive creative of Steelehouse Productions, a group that creates art for business and ministry through the mediums of film, stage, and animation. He is also the author of Flashbang: How I Got Over Myself and Half-Life/Die Already and is a regular contributor to Collide Magazine and Relevant Magazine.