Recently, I was asked to weigh in concerning an article a high school teammate of mine posted to his Facebook page. The article concerned a statement that Pope Francis made recently in a homily. He said, “People who go to church on Sundays, but spend the rest of the week cultivating their attachment to money, power and pride are ‘pagan Christians.'”
The comment I added to the discussion is the subject of this post. I said, “I find myself not being able to disagree with him.” After 20+ years of ministry and many experiences and interactions with many different people, I have come to the realization that there are many Christians who really struggle to understand what it means to truly believe.
What I have discovered is that it is far too common that belief is nothing more than “intellectual assent” to a set of propositions or a moral philosophy, albeit based on the teachings of the Bible. But the belief in the Bible, the belief to which Paul refers in Romans 10:9 when he says, “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved,” is belief that is continuously life-altering as one understands more and more who God is and relationship one has with God and the incredible implications of that relationship.
Belief motivates to action. Just as James say in the second chapter of his letter, (the word for faith is also translated as belief) a person’s true belief is demonstrated in action. What a person truly believes will be demonstrated. As the saying goes, “Talk is cheap.” What a person truly believes will come out in one’s actions.
For example, do you say that you believe that God will provide for your needs? Then you will give generously as He calls you to give.
Do you say that you believe that God is in control? If you believe that, you will exhibit peace, not stress, even in the midst of a storm.
Do you say that you believe “Jesus is Lord?” Then you will obey when He commands.
Do you say that God will protect? Then you will go when He calls you to go even if it is a situation in which you might be uncomfortable or the possibility of danger exists.
One thing I do know. When a person walks in true belief, s/he will be walking on the edge – out there. S/he will be doing things that go far beyond his or her ability to do because it is in those situations where God’s incredible power and presence really stand out. And it is out there where the experience of God’s fullest blessing is found.
But too many people are content with living life in some place considered safe, a place where belief is nothing more than intellectual assent to a set of a propositions or a moral philosophical code. But that place is fake life.
I choose to live life out on the edge, believing because that is where God has called me to be and live, in the light of being one of His adopted children, with all the implications and realities of that placement and position. It may not make sense to many people, but that’s when my true beliefs come to light because it is often that to what God calls a person doesn’t make earthly sense, but it makes perfect sense in heaven. He calls; I move into action. I believe Him at His word. Therefore, I will respond.