Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Where's the Evidence?

Seems that the world is just full of believers – people who say they believe in God (whatever you may call Him).  Many of these say they believe that Jesus Christ came to earth, died, and was resurrected.  I have read a couple different statistics on this, but the most recent Pew Research study indicates that 84 percent of the world’s population “has faith.”  Approximately 32 percent of the world’s population considers themselves Christians.  

But, what does this really tell us? If 2.2 billion people believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and that only 16 percent of the people in the entire world don’t have faith of any kind, what can we glean? If you ask me, it’s simple.  It’s not good news.  What it means is that people’s beliefs and actions are not in alignment.

Somewhere along the way, we decided that our actions just weren’t as important as the belief we professed.  Sure, scripture is clear that must first BELIEVE.  And, it’s also clear that works cannot save us.  But, the Bible also paints the picture that our actions follow closely with our belief.  Salvation requires repentance, which is turning your back on your old life and beginning to walk in the opposite direction. This means change.  This means sacrifice.  This means discomfort at times.

The problem for most Christians is not that they don’t want to change, or that they don’t want to do the right thing.  It’s that wanting to do it, and actually doing it are completely different.  Let’s say you love your spouse with all your heart. Day after day you thank God for him or her.  They are on your mind constantly.  But, you always work late. You rarely speak an encouraging word. You never tell her how much she means.  You never plan a date night. You rarely smile at home. But, wait…you love your spouse.  You adore them. But, your actions don’t line up with your feelings.

In James, we read that faith without good works is a dead faith.  Not “no faith,” but a dead one. Lifeless. Pointless. Dormant. So, if your faith is pushing up daisies, who even knows that you have faith? What evidence is there to support that you believe?

I read a quote in a magazine article a couple years ago that has stuck with me.  To paraphrase, the author said that the biggest gap that exists in the life of a Christian is not the gap between what we know and what we need to know.  The biggest gap is between what we know and how we live. Ouch.

You may not know the entire Bible from cover to cover.  You may only know a couple of the Commandments – that you’re supposed to love your neighbor, not murder, not steal, not covet.  So, what are you doing with what you know? How are you living?  What choices are you making to demonstrate your beliefs?

I recently read a book entitled Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman.  The book is incredibly well-written, and equally convicting.  Idleman claims that most Christians are “fans” of Jesus. We like to associate ourselves with Christ.  We even agree with everything Jesus says.  But, we just don’t want to actually follow him.  We don’t want to give up control. We don’t want to go “all in.”

We think if we go “all in” we’ll have to give up some things. Maybe so.  We think if we go “all in” we’ll have to act differently.  Hopefully so.  We think that going “all in” will change our identity. Definitely so! 

After all, isn’t that why you accepted Christ in the first place? 

John 14:15 simply says this: If you love me, obey my commands. (NLT)

Your spouse wants you to cherish her.  Your kids want you to spend time with them.  Your friends want you to be trustworthy. Your co-workers want you to be dependable.

But, God wants you to obey.  Why?  Because He loves you.  He knows what is best for you.  And, He knows you love Him when you do what He asks. And, everybody else will too!

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