Some of you reading this are struggling with allowing Jesus Christ to shine through you. You struggle with the perception of others. You are afraid to be a Godly man or woman. You acknowledge God’s omnipotence, but don’t think you are called to actually do anything. Which means, you also don’t really live as though you truly believe God is who He says He is.
I’ve read about this term called “Practical Atheism.” Craig Groeschel, Senior Pastor at LifeChurch in Oklahoma, describes the term this way: “It’s when you say, ‘I believe in God, I just don’t fear Him.’”
This is where the rubber meets the road. Beth Moore, the great author and speaker, calls this the difference between “Believing IN God, and believing God.” Most people do believe IN God. However, they don’t claim God’s promises unless they are convenient, or until they are urgent.
According to the writer in Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7 NIV)
We want to be able to reap the rewards of Christianity without actually obeying Christ. Because many lack the discipline to be obedient to God’s commands, they begin to create their own theology – one that is not rooted in God Himself, but rather in their own concoction of a little bit of God, and a whole lot of themselves.
I read an eye-opening article entitled More Americans Tailoring Religion to Fit Their Needs that appeared in USA Today. Here’s an excerpt from the article, written by Cathy Lynn Grossman:
The folks who make up God as they go are side-by-side with self-proclaimed believers who claim the Christian label but shed their ties to traditional beliefs and practices. Religion statistics expert George Barna says, with a wry hint of exaggeration, America is headed for "310 million people with 310 million religions."
And, while each of us may commune with God in our own way, scripture is absolutely clear that there’s only ONE way to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ. Not through what “feels” right. Not through “being a good person.” Not through “taking care of Mother Earth” or through self-improvement, or enlightenment.
Among Jesus’ many profound teachings are bold statements he made to the crowds who followed him. They are referred to as “I AM” statements:
I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty. (John 6:35)
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. (John 10:9)
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:25-26)
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
In that same USA Today article, Barna laments, "People say, 'I believe in God. I believe the Bible is a good book. And then I believe whatever I want.'"
In the end, you either you believe God (Jesus), or you don’t. John, the disciple who may have been Jesus’ closest friend, wrote this near the end of his life:
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3-6)
So, here’s our call: To believe God, accept Christ, and do as he did – obeying his Father, and loving and serving others.