Aligning Your Faith

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Well, I did it. I apologized to Kayla for being such a loser lately. It’s not like I was afraid or nervous to talk to her about it. However, I’m one of those people who hates to admit that they’re wrong. I’ve been known to be in the middle of an argument and suddenly see that the other person is right, yet still continue my side of the argument anyways.

So I admitted that I was wrong. All I did was make fun of her and tell her that the new relationship she was in wouldn’t work out. I told her I’d give it a month. In fact, when she told me about it, I told her I’d start placing bets as to how long it would last. I mean, how pathetically low was that? She’s still my friend, or at least she used to be. I just lost sight of that completely. I exchanged friendship for an outlet to get my anger out. And she doesn’t deserve that. Nobody deserves that.

I apologized to her and I still feel pretty bad about the whole thing. Perhaps I can mend everything up; I sure hope I can anyways. If not, then I suppose that’s what I deserve for doing this. I mean, I claim to be a Christian, and yet I can’t love someone whom God loves? The Bible speaks out endlessly about loving your neighbour as yourself, and about how love is shown to God by loving others. There’s no excuse for how I’ve acted to her, and at risk of further guilt being thrown upon myself, I must say I have no excuse for how I act to many other people who deserve the same treatment as I would give to my best friend.

That’s one of the hardest things about living the Christian life. Anyone can say they worship God and love Him, but if we never show it, it’s meaningless. Loving others is how we show love to God. It’s like this: someone comes up to you, says they love you, and then they kick your young child who’s holding onto your hand right beside you. That’s what we do. We tell God we love Him and then go around hurting all of His children, whom He loves so dearly. The book of James talks all about this. Faith without works is dead; you show your faith by your works. And this doesn’t apply only to Christianity.

There is a fundamental inconsistency that appears so rampantly among humans, especially those in North America. There’s a misalignment between what someone says they believe and what they so obviously believe through their actions. It’s like a member of the SPCA owning a puppy mill. Their actions are blatantly inverted from what they say. Asking someone what they believe on a certain issue just doesn’t work so well anymore; we are left to examine their actions to determine their beliefs. And that’s sad. It’s tragic, really.

I could speak for hours on this; I could organize entire seminars on Aligning Your Faith and just read the book of James for the introduction to what I had to say. I just finished reading through James and it speaks out so boldly. The words stand out on the page and I feel like it was written specifically for me, so true they are as they apply to me. But here’s where I feel the problem is.

Society has started to create a rift in people’s lives. See, over in places like the Middle East with religions like Islam, the people don’t have a problem living out exactly what they believe. The society around them is encouraging them to believe exactly what they already do believe. But here in North America, our society is telling us just the opposite. Some give in completely to the culture and choose to be tossed around in the sea of commercialism and materialism. But those that see it as an unhealthy lifestyle are constantly pushed to conform to society. So many still cling to their beliefs in thought, but not in action. Some people walk completely with society in everything they do, and yet say they believe the absolute opposite. It’s a troubling symptom which affects so many, myself included.

How does one go around fixing this problem and aligning their faith with their actions? James has the answer. “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise!” (James 3:13) This verse mentions that being wise will produce a life of goodness. And you become wise by being good and not bragging about it.

But how do you practically set your life into motion to line up with your beliefs? James has a principle to apply here as well.

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls.

“And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God’s perfect law–the law that sets you free–and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:21-25)

The only answer is radical action. James says to “get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives.” He doesn’t say, “Well, over a course of twenty-five years, attempt to slowly become what you believe and start getting rid of evil one small step at a time.” It doesn’t work that way. I’ve noticed that as soon as I start trying to get rid of one wrong thing I do, one or two other ones pop in my life. The only answer is to cut yourself off completely. Jesus also said:

“If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” (Matthew 18:8-9)

When some preachers talk about this verse, they chuckle afterwards and say, “Now I’m not saying to go out tonight and cut off your hand with a chainsaw.” I’m not going to say that. That’s just watering down the Bible. Do you think Jesus was joking when He said that? No way. Now, what I am going to say is that normally there is an easier way to keep yourself from sinning than gouging out your eye, but if that’s honestly what you have to do, I’m not going to say, “Well that’s not what Jesus really meant.” Jesus spoke out about it clearly. If you’re falling into sin watching the wrong programs on TV, then get rid of it. You can’t trust yourself to say, “Okay well I won’t watch that anymore, and if bad stuff comes on, I’ll just cover my eyes.” Yeah, right. Just throw out your TV. Or lock the channel if you can. Do whatever you must to get rid of all sin in your life. And if chopping off your hand is the only way to do it, then you better get ready sharpening those knives.

Please realize that as I’m writing this, I’m telling myself this stuff too. I have so much to work on in my life that I’m attempting to cut off. It’s like putting an elastic around your hand. If there’s sin in your life, you need to cut off all its circulation so it has no chance to grow. Sin is sneaky. If you allow even a tiny bit of life to creep through, it grabs it and overtakes you. The only way is to, in one fell swoop, cut it all off at once. It doesn’t work to say, “I’ll do it slowly. Instead of watching the program I shouldn’t be watching every day, I’ll only do it on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then slowly cut down the time I watch it.” Again, I say, “Yeah right. And I’m the Easter Bunny.” It’s just an excuse to rationalize squeezing out as much sin as you can while still putting your mind at ease that you’re “doing the right thing.”

Kill sin in your life. It’s the only way to align your faith with actions. But it shouldn’t stop there. When sin takes over parts of your life, if you get rid of it, there’s now a void. That void will suck in anything it can, like a black hole, to fill itself up. If you’re not careful, it can pull in sin again, perhaps even worse this time. You must fill that void with good actions. Like breaking a bad habit, fill the void with good habits to fully break the power of sin.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read my Bible. I’m in the process of cutting my sin off as well, and this is one of the measures I’m taking. Instead of falling into sin, I’m going to spend my time in the Word – time well spent.

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