The Need for a Living Faith
When I was in college, I drove an old 1953 Chevy Bel Air. The car had a lot of miles on it, and a good amount of wear and tear. One night, I had to drive from U.C. Berkeley to a meeting in downtown Oakland. The interior lights did not work, so I lit a match to check the gas gage. It registered full, so I started on my way. As I was zipping along the freeway, the car began to stutter, then the engine died. I was able to coast the car off a freeway exit, through a stop sign, into a service station. The attendant checked the car for me, looking for the cause of trouble, then he announced, “You’re out of gas.” The gage read “Full,” but the tank was actually empty.
That reminds me of some “believers” I have known over the years. They brag about how full of faith they are, but when I look for evidence of Christ’s compassion or integrity in them, they seem to be running on empty. They seem to be full of talk, with little evidence of genuine Christ-likeness.
Susanna Wesley once stated, “There are two things to do about the gospel–believe it and behave it.” The Christian faith is not just a call to us to believe in Jesus; it is a call to us to believe in Jesus and to behave in ways that are in keeping with being a follower of Jesus.
Mark Labberton remarks, “Jesus’ does not say, ‘Believe me,’ but rather, ‘Follow me.’ If we are going to pursue God’s call, it’s an act of trusting and following—of behaving and living in ways that reflect our life and purposes. We aren’t saved by our actions, but we are saved for our actions to become those that make God’s life in Jesus Christ visible.” (Called, p. 71)
James 2:18 stresses, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I, by my works, will show you my faith.” In verse 26 James adds, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.”
God does not want his children to be spiritually dead. He wants us to be alive. It is in the living out of our faith that we truly come alive!
Many years ago, on the old television show “The Merv Griffin Show,” Merv’s guest was a body builder. Gary Gulbranson shares what happened: “During the interview, Merv asked, ‘Why do you develop those particular muscles?’ The body builder simply stepped forward and flexed a series of well-defined muscles from chest to calf. The audience applauded. ‘What do you use all those muscles for?’ Merv asked. Again, the muscular specimen flexed, and biceps and triceps sprouted to impressive proportions. ‘But what do you use those muscles for?’ Merv persisted. The body builder was bewildered. He didn’t have an answer other than to display his well-developed frame.”
Some “Christians” seem to be a lot like that body builder. They have worked hard to build spiritual muscles of Bible knowledge and Scripture memorization and church attendance and knowing the words of all the hymns, but if asked what they use those muscles for, they have no answer but to quote another verse or recite a hymn. What this world needs is not people who can show off their religiosity but people who will live out the compassion and integrity of Jesus.
As Susanna Wesley put it, “There are two things to do about the gospel–believe it and behave it.”