Following Jesus is more than having the correct doctrine or truth about God. Having knowledge of God is not the same thing as having a relationship with Him. A person can know the Bible, but be far away from God.
I don't want to make Bible study seem unimportant, because study is a very essential discipline we need in our lives if we are going to follow Jesus. It is crucial that we have an accurate understanding of what the Bible says. Reading and studying the Bible is the main way God guides our lives. Therefore, correct doctrine is very important, and correct doctrine only comes through the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote this to Timothy; Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:16; NIV).
What we believe about God matters! Remember, it doesn't matter how sincerely we believe something, if it is wrong, then what we believe is wrong. Our believing something doesn't make that something true. That is the reason why it is important that we study the Bible so we understand who God is and the will He has for our lives. The Bible reveals to us truth so we can know what to believe and how to act. Part of Christianity is about knowing the Truth.
Yet, we know that there is something more than just knowing Truth. We have all witnessed people who knew God's Word, but lived as if it wasn't Truth. Truth without action makes no difference in our lives. Think back to what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:16. He told us that there are two areas of our lives that we need to watch closely: what we believe and how we live.
The problem the Church is facing in the United States are people who have access to the Truth, but choose to ignore so they can do their own thing. These people claim Christ, but pick and choose what they want to believe so they can live life on their own terms. They are neither watching their doctrine or their lives closely.
This damages the witness of the Church because the World looks at "Christians" and see them living like everyone else. The World doesn't see the love, the gentleness, the peace, the hope, the forgiveness, or the self-control that should be visible in the life of Christians. Instead the World sees hypocrisy, jealousy, bitterness, hatred, greed, and the list could go on and on. The bottom line is that the World looks at the Church and sees a reflection of itself.
The way people discover the relevance of Christianity in their lives is to see it lived out in the lives of Christians. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord in your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it (1 Peter 3:15; NLT). Peter reminds us that people are watching the way we live. It is through the way we live people discover the relevance following Christ Jesus brings to their lives.
So how do we change this trend? I think it begins with us. We have to examine how we live and ask, "Does my life truly reflect the Truth I know about Jesus?" In other words we have to set the example. The next thing I think we need is to have Church Families that clearly explain what a disciple of Christ is and the expectations that Church Family has for members. For too long people have left on their own to develop their spiritual lives, it is time the local Church took seriously the task of disciplining people, and I believe that task starts with laying out the expectations.
Christ Jesus told His followers to be salt and light, two elements that make their presence known and produce change, in this world. The way we make an impact like salt or light is by knowing truth and living right. The two go together.
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