belief beyond words

I heard a sermon this past weekend that really struck a chord with me. It settled something I had felt unrest about for all of my life. How can belief be enough? We are saved by faith, not works. We know that faith without works is moot, but so is the reverse. But still something felt unsettled about salvation by belief alone.

How can it be so that we can coast through life without doing anything God asks of us and still be saved because we "believe"? It's so easy to say "I believe!" You think about it and say it out loud and there it is, right?

The revolutionary proclamation that changed my whole perception? Mike Glenn said "If you don't live it, you don't believe it." It sounds so simple (and is!), yet so hard for me to come to realize on my own.

Suddenly the word "belief" took on more meaning. Paul's statement that his life was no longer his own once he accepted Christ suddenly clicked for me. So my decisions aren't really mine to make? I don't get to screw up because it "just affects me"? Believing suddenly started to mean more than just words, more than something you say or check the "yes" box on a piece of paper. More than an empty phrase that's too easy to spit out without thinking about. Of course I believe! I live in the Bible belt. I grew up in church. I got baptized. I take communion.

I started to think how my choices might be different if I truly believed.

If I believe that God is sovereign, that I have an important part to play in His enormous plan for His mighty kingdom, would I do the same things day in and day out? If I believe that He is the way to break the bondage of sin, the one way to freedom and total healing, would I make the same choices?

It's so easy to take the easy way out all the time. What do I want? What would satisfy myself in this moment?  Selfishness is easy to succumb to.

Part of believing in God is believing that you now have a new set of responsibilities. You have to step up. You can't coast anymore. You have to be an active member of the kingdom. And you WANT to be one. It means actively choosing Him over instant gratification or selfish whims.

It sounds kind of like imprisonment. And it is, in a way. But in the same way, it is the most freeing thing you can do. Enslaved to Christ, free from the world. Freedom from addiction. Freedom from evil. Freedom from sin. Enslaved to goodness and light. 

If I believe that Christ truly breaks the shackles of our sin, why do I keep choosing sin? That's not living in truth, and that's definitely not genuine belief. That's thinking, Oh, that's a nice thought - no longer doing this thing that I hate, that brings me so much grief and sorrow. But I'll never really stop doing that, it's just human nature. That's putting faith in human nature. That's putting faith in the worldly perspective that our culture leads us to think is truth. The choices I make, the way I live my life is a portrait of what I truly believe.

I'm not saying that in order to genuinely believe you have to live a perfect life. Obviously that won't happen. But trying to live in a half-assed way, being "good" when it's Sunday or when you're in a certain crowd, and then choosing the completely opposite for your Monday - Saturday lifestyle -- that's not going to cut it. God sees right through that. That's like saying you believe in the tooth fairy but putting your own dollar under your pillow. "Taking care of yourself" because you don't really believe you'll be granted that fairy's dollar.

Christ alone offers complete freedom. Freedom from sin, freedom from self, freedom from evil. The story has been told and it has a happy ending. We don't have to worry about winning the final war. There won't even be a battle. (Read that again. Seriously, read it.) Christ will come again and that will be it! No more pain, no suffering, no war, nothing but goodness and light for the rest of eternity. He alone is the path to everlasting life. He alone is the path to peace. Understanding that and BELIEVING it -- that is cause for celebration unlike any other. It is humbling and awe-inspiring and beyond all human comprehension. There is a way to a life without disease, without afflictions, without pain, without hurt, without selfishness and greed. THERE IS A WAY! It is not a hoax. Not a joke. Not a "nice thought." Not a coping mechanism. There is a legitimate way, a way out, and a way in. Out of misery, into pure light. No suffering. No broken hearts. Total healing.

All praise be unto Him. All praise. May every hand be raised to You, and every heart changed.

Heavenly Father, ignite my soul with your truth and your light. Let my belief surpass all words, and let me live as I believe. Direct my feet, direct my words, change my life for your goodness, day in and day out. Amen.