Both a customer and a client are defined as “one who buys goods or services“. But that is where the definition of a customer ends and that of a client begins.
The word customer dates back to the Middle English word for “custom” as a way of doing things. The word client on the other hand dates back further then Middle English and is derived from the Latin word cliens which means dependent or follower, to come under the protection of another. (Source)
A client is further defined then as “one who depends on the protection of another“.
The Godly Difference
This is really a fascinating distinction to be made: a customer is one who has gotten into the custom of doing things: going to church, paying tithe, reading the bible, and so one. Furthermore, a customer is someone who goes to make a purchase but who wants to remain self dependent; go to God for healing if you’re sick; go to Him for money if you’re in dire financial straits, go to him if you need prayer for someone or something and so on. But after you make your transaction you want to go your separate way and to do your own thing.
In other words, a customer’s relationship is superficial with the one they make their purchase from. They don’t expect much and they don’t give much. They just do what’s necessary to get what’s necessary.
A client on the other hand is someone who also makes regular purchases, but a client is much more than that. A client is one who comes under the protection of the one he has made a purchase from. It is relational. It is intimate. It is ongoing. It does not depend on doing things in the form of customs, traditions or habitual practices. It does things out of love.
But we need to be careful here, careful not to judge between a customer and a client too quickly. Because we need to keep in mind that the primary definition of both is “one who buys goods or services”. And so the real distinction between the two lays not so much in practice as in attitude.
Both a customer and a client may go to church weekly. They both may be involved in prayers and petitions. They both may tithe (though the client would probably avoid the term “tithe”). They both may seek help from God during dire financial straits. They both may study theology. The difference is that one may do all of these things out of habit, customs and traditions. The other, out of love and a sincere relationship.
The first is a customer. The other, a client.
The God of the Bible is a God who works in Covenantal relationships. To be “in Christ” is to be in that covenantal relationship. It is to come under the protection of a God who invites: Come and dine.
It is to be a client of the Almighty.
I want to be a client of the Almighty.
How about you? Are you a customer of God? Or a client?