Thursday, October 26, 2006

what's the difference

It seems to me that the real difference between those who are following Christ and those who are not is most evident in the times when "we don't feel like it." You don't have to be a Christian to forgive. Many who don't know Christ forgive people. You don't have to be a Christian to love people. There are many loving families in the world that don't know Christ.

But it seems to me that the real transformation of a person's life is seen in the times where it is difficult to love someone. When it doesn't make sense to forgive someone, and yet forgiveness is freely given, that is when Christ is most obvious. A good example of this recently was the Amish school shooting. The watching world expected grieving. They weren't prepared for the instant and unconditional forgiveness.

Its no big thing to love those who love you. But loving your enemy is something only Christ calls us to. And its something only those who have been transformed by the grace of God can even attempt. Loving your friend is possible to the world. Loving the guy who just shot your daughter is not. Only Christ can enable that.

And so I guess that is where the biggest difference manifests itself. Christ can be seen most clearly in our lives in those moments when "we don't feel like" living out the gospel but we do anyway. So what about the times when "I don't feel like it" and so I don't? I am reminded of the verse in Matthew, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.....But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand."

In the parable, both men hear. But the difference is that one man hears the words and then "puts them into practice" and the other does not. It is our living out of the gospel, not just our belief that it is "the way" that makes the difference. We see many pastors "fall with a great crash" because they didn't live out what they knew to be true.

What is also interesting to think about is that this parable doesn't have a middle step. It goes straight from "hearing" to the "doing" or "not-doing." There is no middle step of "belief" or "thought process" to speak of. Maybe its just assumed that if you believe what you hear, you will do it. But in our culture, this assumption has been messed with. We have managed to create ways to have "belief" without "action." But I imagine with Jesus, there was no such category.

This begs the question, "Can you hear the gospel, not believe, and yet still 'put it into practice'?" And if this is even possible, does this count? If you don't believe and yet still are able to put his words into practice, does that mean you are still building your life on rock? Or, would "putting his words into practice" be Jesus' definition of "belief" regardless of whether you thought His words were "true" or not?

Of course, these questions are only possible because we have managed to divorce belief from practice. I am guessing that if we were to ask Jesus these questions, he would come back to us with questions which were equally as nonsensical. Like, "Can a person go for a jog without believing they exist?" "Can someone build a house without believing in gravity?" While you might be able to squeak out a "yes" to these questions, the "yes" has so lost its meaning and has so missed the point, that it might as well be a "no."


At 7:57 AM, Blogger brendar said...

This was good for me to read. I just had a conversation about the techniques that our governmant uses to extract information from prisoners. As a Christian I think that we show our love for mankind by treating monsters like human beings created in the image of God. In the plain light of the Gospel there is nothing else we can do...nothing else makes sense if we really believ the Gospel.

At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

I skip over to your blog often. This post is phenomenal. You didn't just hit the nail on the head you hit the entire bag.

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Mark said...

When I first read your response I thought it said, "I skip over your blog often..." Ha Ha. I thought to myself, well, at least he is honest. :)


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