Friday, March 25, 2011

An Inconvenient Christianity

Photo courtesy cohdra of

I was casually listening to a Christian radio talk show, when suddenly a woman called up with a problem that I found rather peculiar and unexpected. She said she had been a Christian for 17 years, but spent a few years in rebellion to Christ because of some personal problems. Now, she is in the process of being more dedicated to Christianity. However, she fell in love with a guy who is a Jehovah Witness. He is now asking to marry her, but her sister does not approve, saying it would be a very bad idea. Now she is confused as to what to do.

The radio hosts asked a series of questions. And she eventually admitted that the Jehovah Witness was not really committed to his faith, but believed hers was wrong for sure. She said she felt she could overlook that, since their love is so strong. But she was worried because of what her sister warned. And she wanted to know if she was making a mistake, or can she just overlook some of the differences.

The hosts went on to encourage her to investigate the beliefs of the Jehovah Witnesses at the very least — whether or not he was committed didn't make a difference. Then they wanted her to look at the day-to-day problems of valuing different religious activities, and to consider what it means to be committed to a belief.

I'd have to admit that would go beyond this advice. I wondered if this woman actually believed more about Christ than in Christ. In other words, she may have believed the information, but she wasn't committed to the Christian faith. I went on to wonder, what does she thinks makes someone a Christian? Is it simply accepting information about Christ? Is it joining a church or a Christian community? Is it deciding to do Christian activities?

Then the very next day, my oldest daughter and I were reading a Bible passage in the Gospels where Jesus told the demons to be quiet while they were proclaiming that he was the Messiah. My daughter was confused by this. "Why would Jesus tell them to be quiet, if they are acknowledging who he really is?" I explained that Jesus wanted people to come to him by faith, and the demons didn't have faith, they just have accurate information. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the Christ of God — and they shudder at the fact. I went on to show her the passage in James that discusses this very problem. (James 2:14-26)

Then we ended up talking about the problem of confusing the Biblical, saving, faith with empty faith. Saving faith produces actions. Empty faith produces nothing. Saving faith prompts acts of faith. Empty faith produces no corresponding acts at all. The most I can say about empty faith is that it fools the one who has this type of faith. They think they believe because they have the right information. In fact, earlier in James, it says that people who read the Bible without doing what it says are deceived.

So, what's the point? Well, it's possible to be deceived about our salvation. If the fruit isn't there, there may be a problem. And the problem isn't solved by getting more religious. The problem is addressed by adjusting whom we trust, what we value, how we respond, and where we are headed. If we didn't become a Christian without this repentance, we are not Christians. But if we believe Christ, we will obey and follow Christ.

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