When The Unbelieving Christian Is Me…

Yesterday I blogged about unbelieving Christians who on the surface appear as believers but when the layers of make-up are uncovered…  Read that blog if you want to understand more of what I mean by unbelieving Christians.  I ended that blog with these words:

Sometimes the most unbelieving people we will ever meet are Christians.  So let us pray that we never meet such an unbelievers in our mirrors.

So in the comments, which were good as always, Steven Gains asked about what Christians should do if they find an unbeliever in the mirror?

That is a great question that I’ve thought about all day.  Since the unbeliever I have in mind is not the one who literally disbelieves in the existence of God, the resurrection of Christ, etc…  I am thinking of the Christian who is steeped in dead religion, who is uninterested in following Jesus when it calls for him or her to abandon their comfortable life as it is and go where only those with a living faith are willing to go.  And if we are honest, we all have probably been here at one point or another during our Christian life.  I know I sure have.

So what should be done when we realize that we are that unbeliever with that dead religion?

To begin with, I think if we come to this realization then we have already overcome a huge obstacle.  This is to find ourselves convicted by the Holy Spirit and having awakened in us the need for repentance.  Many stubbornly spurn this work of the Spirit, so we should be thankful that God has been able to penetrate our hearts.  But the conviction of the Holy Spirit demands of repentance of us, which we all know means change.

“Prayer comes from a place of honesty not religiosity.”

So what sort of change?

I listened to Eric Metaxas’ speech at the 2012 National Day of Prayer earlier today (you can view that speech here).  Metaxas is the author of a biographies on both William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and so his speech had to do with these two men and the living faith the exemplified in contrast to the dead religion other believers often carry on.  During his speech he made this astounding statement about prayer: “Prayer comes from a place of honesty not religiosity.”

Exactly.  The change (repentance) we need to make begins with honest prayer!

For example, consider Psalm 51.  It was the brutally honest prayer of confession and petition offered by David after he was convicted about his sin that involved his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah.  For example, consider v. 10-12:

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Such words, when they become the honest confession and petition of our own heart, could easily be the prayer of deliverance from dead religion just as it is from the haunting guilt of sin for others.

When honest prayer for God to open our eyes and be our true Shepherd becomes our prayer, I am confident that God will restore in us a living faith.  That is where we will crave both an ever deepening relationship with our Triune God who is Father, Son, and Spirit and a relationship with that community whom God dwells within.  As that relationship grows, so will our willingness to follow Jesus into the risky adventure we know as the mission of God.

2 responses to “When The Unbelieving Christian Is Me…

  1. Great post Rex as always, it is good to get us thinking. Really like the comments from the last post. I have just one more thought. It is a painful process to look into the mirror. Perhaps this is why God loved David so much, because he wasn’t afraid for God to look inside him and do the work that is necessary to maintain his fellowship and walk with God. Of course David missed some things, we all do. One thing that helps me is understanding, which is one of many ways in which the Spirit does Its work in us. When I understand that God’s grace is not cheap then (I hope) it will prompt me not to respond with cheap faith. Anyway, it is good to be reminded that we must keep this real. Thanks for the thoughts!

    • This is why throughout the New Testament the mind is mentioned as central to our spiritual formation. But that’s not just a call for intellectualism but rather, as you point out with both the story of David and your own personal reflection, “doing the work that is necessary” so that the Spirit can bring about the gospel understanding that result in a strong faith response.

      Grace and Peace,


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