Thursday, September 02, 2010

Living What You Believe

Originally posted Monday January 30, 2006

What does faith look like? Our image of faith is often a person believing certain things: That God exists, Jesus' Resurrection, and the like. Of course in a different religion faith would look different because there would be different things to believe. But I don't think this is the full picture of what Biblical faith truly is. When it came to talking about faith the authors of the Bible turned to the example of one man to serve as an illustration.

This is what James writes:
Don't you remember our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did--by his actions. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous." He was even called "the friend of God." So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, no by faith alone (James 2:21-24; NLT).
I think people have always struggled with equating faith with simply believing the right things. Certainly belief is part of faith, but it is not the only part of faith. Faith is also about trusting God. Trusting God so much that we will obey Him completely in every area of our lives.

The examples of faith that we read in Hebrews 11 are all about people who not only believed in God, but allowed that belief to influence their behavior.  In other words they trusted God. Belief if it is not accompanied by action is worthless. What God is interested in is our beliefs being lived out in our lives. Ultimately what we really believe is communicated through our behavior.

This is why it is no contradiction for the Bible to say that our salvation is tied to our belief and to our actions, for both are a part of faith. The Bible is clear that we are saved by God's grace through our faith and not our good works. Our good works don't get us into heaven, but they do set us apart as faithful people.

When it comes to how I live do people see that I am trusting God? Would the people who I interact with on a regular basis know that I am a Christian if I didn't tell them that I was a follower of Jesus? These are questions worth considering because the way we live shows the world what we truly think about God. I believe that being the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world" is about how we live in front of an unbelieving world.

For one semester in college I had a roommate who was from China. He was in his mid-thirties and wanted an "American Education," but he had a hard time getting accepted to college in the United States. For some reason he ended up at Nebraska Christian College even though he had no Christian background, and planned to transfer to another school (I guess it is easier to get accepted once you are in the States) as soon as he was able. One night towards the end of that semester he asked me if I was a Christian since all he saw me do was goof off, watch movies, and play video games and that he did not see me pray or read my Bible. Now in my defense I did do that when he was not around, but the reality is that I did not make that a real visible part of my life.  In a way that was a crucial experience for me because that is a question which still haunts me to this day almost 14 years later.

Faith is more than what we believe, it is also about how we live. We need to trust God more than we trust ourselves. When we step into the unknown trusting God to lead the way, like Abraham, that is when faith is truly evident in our lives. When we do the right thing even the we are faced with dreadful temptations, like Joseph, that is true faith in action . When we boldly proclaim the Gospel regardless of the circumstances, like Paul, is faith that makes a difference in the lives of others. When we help other people, like the early Church, that is faith that is able to change the world. Faith is about living out what we believe. What is your life saying about what you believe?


Tess said...

Thank you, Paul, for this wonderful blog. This posting is aimed right at my heart. Most of your postings are like that for me and have nourished me through some rough times (and some good times!) :) He never fails to speak to me though your writings. I'm glad you continue to share with us in this way. :))

pbsteele said...

Thanks Tess for reading and leaving the encouraging comment. It is always nice to know that what I write is a blessing to other Christians.

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