The time has come, beloved readers, for me to briefly address a long-standing pet peeve: that annoying term, "practising Christian". Of course, I understand that this term can be helpful when it is necessary to distinguish Christians who believe and strive to live in accordance with their religion from nominal Christians. But what has come to annoy me is the reductive way in which I hear so many Orthodox Christians use it: an Orthodox Christian who practises fasting, but not hospitality, is deemed and described as a "practising Christian", but one who practises hospitality but not fasting, is not. A regular church goer can be a slanderer, yet he is still described as "practising", but someone who is tardy about prayer and worship and yet speaks ill of no one is at best just a "nice person".
The simple fact of the matter is that every Christian fails to practise his or her faith, to a lesser or greater extent, in one way or another. This should not lead people to the conclusion (as it often does) that such Christians (all Christians, if we are honest) are hypocrites. It means only that they are human. The hypocrisy begins when we pick and choose which practices are necessary to be considered "practising" (usually the things which are not unique to Christianity: fasting, prayer and the observance of holy days), while dismissing as little more than "optional extras" those things which are the fruits of true repentance: "righteousness, mercy and faith" (Matt.23:23).
What is a practising Christian? Someone who through continuous repentance is striving to become one; someone who is not content to observe the letter of the law while violating the heart of the law. Such a Christian does not think of himself as a "practising Christian" - as opposed to "those other Christians" - and for such a believer the hackneyed expression, "I am a sinner", is not a pious platitude, but a genuine confession of repentance.