Living As We Believe

“But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.” – James 2:18.

As Christians, our faith should be evident in the way we live. It’s not always the case but it should be. In reality, how we live is always trying to catch up with how we believe. For example, we believe that we are to live by the Spirit and not by the works of the flesh (cf. Gal 5:16-25) but as we all know, it requires daily discipline in order to say “No!” to the flesh and “Yes!” to the Spirit.

What sort of discipline is necessary so that there might be more coherency between what we profess as belief and how we live? In his book Captive to the Word of God, Miroslav Volf says:

Espousing a belief puts pressure on the one who believes to act accordingly. Put more generally, basic Christian beliefs as beliefs entail practical commitments. These commitments may need to be explicated so as to become clear, or they may need to be connected to specific issues in concrete situations, but they do not need to be added to the beliefs; they inhere in the beliefs. Christian beliefs are not simply statements about what was, is, and will be the case’ they are statements about what should be the case and what humans beings should do about that. They provide the normative vision for practices (p. 50).

Volf is suggesting that what we articulate as our belief shapes how we live. It works sort like this: If we profess that we reject envy and jealousy as being an acceptable way of life then we envision envy and jealousy as abnormal and sinful values and commit ourselves to getting rid of such works of the flesh in our lives. Or to put it another way, if we profess that we are to give thanks in all circumstances (cf. 1 Thess 5:18) then we envision life where we take stock of the blessings we have and express our gratitude for such blessings (rather than becoming envious of others who have what we don’t have).

This is our submission to the sanctifying work of the Spirit in our lives. We profess our beliefs, thereby committing ourselves to live in accordance with what we believe. Consequently, this is one reason why we should continue gathering together in worship and fellowship as the church. When we come together as Christians for worship and fellowship, which includes preaching and teaching, we are reminded of what we believe and the life that our faith calls us to live into. It is also a reason why confession of faith in prayer is an immensely important as a daily discipline. For example, if in prayer we confess that we are called to live by the same mindset of Jesus (cf. Phil 2:5-8) then we are more likely to remember the mindset of Jesus as we encounter life and live accordingly.

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4 responses to “Living As We Believe

  1. This is why a public confession of faith as part of the service can be so healthy. I know we have been shy of using the word “creed” but saying the Apostles’ creed each week as a part of a corporate statement has been a beautiful reminder and comfort to me. There is a sort of wisdom and beauty to weekly confession. Thanks for shining a light on this topic Rex!

    • I once had our church read the Apostle’s Creed together, which drew a little criticism but for the most part was well-received. Any ways, I think we need more confession of faith in terms of both orthodoxy and orthopraxy because the following Jesus is as much a way of living as it is believing.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

  2. A very important and timely subject. I was made to think of J. B. Phillip’s book, YOUR GOD IS TOO SMALL. The content of his book did not come to mind as much as the need for believers to always keep in mind, which has been phrased many ways by many wise people, that God is always more than we can think or imagine God to be. God is more than our culture, or nation, even our theology.

    I mention this simply because the question of living our beliefs comes down to the question of “How big is our God?” From my own experiences of mishaps and growth, and also from my observation of others, a God who is “over there” while we are “over here”, is a small God that we can keep at a distance while not in official worship. However, if God is for us the “All in All”, the one “From whom, through whom and to whom are all things”, the one who IS creating each moment of the universe, then our lives stand on a continuous awareness of God; and that is when beliefs, as imperfect as we are, become daily bread and power instead of remaining lifeless mental assents.

    • Well said! Our spiritual disciplines (prayer, reading scripture, etc…) should help us become more aware of God who became one of us in Jesus and who now is present among us through the Spirit.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

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