There’s an old thought-provoking question that gets used when Christian preachers try to encourage their listeners to think about whether we’re actually living out the faith that we profess. That question is this: “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
That’s a very important question, particularly these days. I know my fellow pastors of all Christian denominations would agree with me that we are concerned that too many people who say they are Christians simply do not live out the Christian life as Jesus and The Holy Bible propose it.
There are at least two reasons why it is so important to live out our faith. The first is out of love and concern for the Christian who is not experiencing the full joys, blessings, strength, and peace that come when we walk closely with The Lord. It’s sad when a person who says “I’m a Christian” misses out on the great gifts that come with actual Christian living.
The second reason living out our faith is so very important these days is that our Christian faith and our Christian way of life are under attack, not only world-wide, but even right here in our own country, and even in our own local community. Maybe that sounds shocking to you, and maybe it doesn’t. But it’s true. Other religions, such as the Muslims of Islam, want to take over where our Christianity has been strong. Other philosophies, such as atheism, agnosticism, pluralism, and relativism want to push our Christian faith and values to the edge of society. Both of those things are happening and will continue to happen unless we Christians stand up and stand strong.
So, the question is asked of us Christians, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” And what would that evidence be?
Over the years, I have developed with the good folks of my church a short list of what living out our faith looks like. Let’s be clear. This is not a check-list of things we can do to earn God’s favor or our salvation. Not at all. God’s favor for us is simply His grace, His unwavering and eternal love He has for us even though we certainly do not deserve it. And our only hope of salvation is to trust in the cross and resurrection of Jesus as our full forgiveness of all our sins, and our assurance of heaven. My seminary professors drove home, “It’s Jesus plus nothing.”
But then, what does living out our faith look like in our daily and weekly lives? What is the “preponderance of evidence” shown by our lives that our faith is alive and well and exerting great influence in the world as Jesus and His Holy Spirit calls us to do?
I believe this to be a rather comprehensive list that, when proven undeniably to be the core of our lives, would grant us that sweet “conviction” that yes, we are a Christian and our lives are having a strong and positive influence in our families, in our community, and in our world.
Here’s the list:
1. Dedicate yourself to worship. Make this the number one priority in your week. Go repeatedly and habitually every Sunday to be with your community of faith and give yourself to the true and authentic worship of the One True God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Parents, nothing is more important for you to do as parents with your children than this. “I’m just sayin’”… this is more important than soccer, karate, softball, or anything else. It is.
2. Develop yourself spiritually. Bible reading and study, devotions, Sunday School, spiritual-development classes, and anything else you can do to grow as a disciple and follower of Jesus is so vital. Just as a plant must have sunlight and water to grow, so we must have God’s Word repeatedly in our lives to keep us from withering in our faith.
3. Do for others. So simple, but also so important. This is anything from helping another person to launching out on a mission trip of epic proportion. Whatever it is, just give yourself away.
4. Draw others in. This comes right from the words of Jesus Himself, “Go and make disciples of all nations …” That starts in our homes. Again, parents and grandparents, our number one job is to “make disciples” of our children and grandchildren, by telling them and teaching them about Jesus’ love for them, and that they are His children, too.
5. Delight in friendships and fellowship. There’s no better place than Christian community to enjoy life where we can both give and receive God’s kind of love. Don’t miss out.
6. Display excellence in management and stewardship. Because everything we have comes from God, with joy we give back in strong proportion our time, talents, and treasures.
Christians, let’s pray together that if we were on trial for being a Christian, there would be a “preponderance of evidence” to convict us.
Merry Christmas! Come to Prince of Peace Christmas Eve at 4, 8, or 11 p.m. www.princeofpeacefayette.org.