Someone asked the question on Twitter this week. A good question. An honest question.
“Which matters more? What you believe? Or how you live your life?”
Do you have your answer?
Think about the question for a minute. Let’s take person A. We’ll call him Roy. Roy has an orthodox understanding of the Christian faith. He would ace a theology exam. He can recite the Apostles Creed and can cite obscure passages in the Minor Prophets.
But Roy lacks humility. At work, people avoid him because he is self righteous and arrogant. He does not leave the aroma of Christ in his wake. And at home, his faithful wife sees her marriage as a cross to bear, not a source of joy.
Then there is person B. We’ll call her Jen. She is a kind, compassionate, humble woman who is warm and welcoming to all people. She is beloved by friends and family.
Jen would affirm the big picture of Christianity. In her view, Christianity simply means “love.” That’s the ultimate issue for her. Loving others is the sine qua non of her faith – the highest goal. Being nice is always right for her, and being mean is always wrong. She would affirm the Apostles Creed, but would admit that she’s not sure what to make of the idea that “He will come to judge the quick and the dead.” The idea of divine judgment is problematic for her. As are a number of other of the finer points of Christian doctrine.
Who would you rather have as your mentor – Roy or Jen?
Who best represents Jesus?
It’s this dichotomy that has led many in our day to conclude that orthopraxy – how you live your life – is ultimately more important that orthodoxy – what you believe is true. Many have been repelled by a Christianity that is characterized by hypocritical “believers” who focus on right thinking over right living.
And I get it. You do too, right?
But here’s what’s missing when the question about orthodoxy vs. orthopraxy is asked.
How you live your life is always shaped by what you believe. Your choices in live aren’t made in a vacuum.
You always decide how to live based on two things – what you think and how you feel. Your actions are shaped by input from two sources – your mind and your emotions. It’s how you process that input that ultimately determines the choices you make.
Since the dawn of the so-called Age of Enlightenment, people have valued empirical data as the source of ultimate truth. We affirm as truth those things that we experience and validate through our senses and through the scientific method. Truth is rational. It’s factual. It’s demonstrable.
In recent years however, there has been a competing school of thought. It has elevated emotions and feelings to a place that is equal to (or at times more significant than) what science tells us. Truth is ultimately whatever is true for you. And no one has the right to question that.
Christianity has always been based on the assertion that ultimate truth is found it what God has revealed to us in His word and by His Son. That revelation, we say, trumps our best thinking or our deepest feelings. When our thoughts and feelings conflict with what scripture teaches, God’s word wins.
At the end of the day, both Roy and Jen have missed what God calls His children to. Roy has proved that 1 Corinthians 8:1 is true. Knowledge “puffeth up.” If what we believe is not shaping us and conforming us more and more into the image of Christ, then we have to reexamine if what we believe is the biblical gospel. Nothing is more unattractive – and less like Jesus – than an arrogant, self righteous hypocrite.
And while Jen’s life may be a better reflection of Christ-likeness, her reticence to affirm and believe what the scriptures teach and what the church has for centuries affirmed as true reflects a different kind of arrogance. It’s a posture that has been the seed bed of heresy throughout history. The Bible warns us to be on guard against false teachers, who present themselves as wolves in sheep’s clothing.
What you believe matters. It shapes who you are. And how you live your life matters. It is a reflection of the reality of grace in your life.
We want our lives to first be shaped by revelation – the truth, once for all delivered to the saints. And we want our lives to be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. We don’t want to be Roy or Jen. We want to be full of grace. And truth.
After the foul up with Maria Goff’s phone number last week, I’ll start there. This week. You can contact Maria at 252-947-8114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why would you contact her?
Because of the upcoming Redeemer Women’s Christmas Tea that happens on Saturday, Dec. 9th at 10:30 am.
It will be a fun time of fellowship, encouragement and a yummy brunch will be provided. It’s a great event for inviting a friend. Mamas are invited to bring their daughters nine years old and up.
Here’s where the “contact Maria” part comes in. We’re still looking for a couple of women to host/decorate tables and bake muffins and scones. Please contact Maria Goff if you’d be willing to help, or have any questions.
Kids Small Group happens tomorrow night, November 16 at church. The kids will start to gather at 5:45 and will wrap up at 8:15. Your kids will have a blast! Dinner is included. Contact Matt Gurney with any questions. Mattgurney77@gmail.com.
One final note that is on my heart this week.
It’s a note for all in our church who could easily use the hashtag #metoo in a post on Facebook or Twitter. Women – and men – who have been victims of sexual harassment or sexual abuse.
First, I want you to know that I grieve with you, even though I don’t know your story. It is an unspeakable evil for someone – usually a man – to assault your personhood through any kind of sexual abuse, violence or intimidation. It is demonic. Our sexuality is a core part of who we are as image bearers of God. It’s a vulnerable part of the soul of every human being. The thought that any of you experienced this kind of abuse is heartbreaking to me.
Second, I hope and pray that none of you has ever experienced sexual harassment or abuse from anyone in our church. If you have, I would hope you would feel safe to share the event with me or with any of the elders. Part of our responsibility as church leaders is to protect the flock of God. We would want to know about any church related harassment or abuse so we can address it.
Third, if you’ve experienced this kind of abuse in other settings, I would hope that you would know people in our church with whom you would be comfortable sharing your story. Part of the way we bear one another’s burdens is by weeping with those who weep. I believe some of the power of the shame that can accompany abuse is broken when we bring these issues to light, where grace can be applied and healing can come.
I’m certainly not a professional in helping people recover from the deep wounds and scars that can accompany this kind of sin. But we can pray for you, and weep with you and work with you to find the help you need. And we’d love to serve you in that way.
Sexual harassment and abuse is always wrong. God, give us grace and heal our land. We pray for redemption for victims and abusers.
Can it be true that God, for His own purposes, elects some for salvation and not others? How is this fair? Don’t we have free will? And why should we evangelize if it’s already decided?
Romans 9 is where we begin to find answers for those questions. We’ll look at what Paul has to say about these things this Sunday.
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!