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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sincere Faith

I recently read an article in the Los Angeles Times about how millennials replaced religion with astrology and crystals. Like the rise of the "Nones" -- those people who consider themselves "spiritual but not religious" -- it was another story about Man's constant efforts to replace God with "God to me" -- an idol of their own making. The story was about a generation that has turned from "traditional organized religion" and replaced it with ... something else. "More spiritual beliefs" the article says. Because, apparently, "traditional organized religion" contains less spiritual beliefs. The common theme was that these people were raised with those traditional religious beliefs but rejected them. "As they became adults, they felt that faith didn’t completely represent who they were or what they believed." That last quote was stunning to me. It reflects the common belief is that faith is a matter of subjective belief that I get to define. You see that this is entirely circular, right? If faith is "whatever I believe," then it isn't actually based on anything but me.

So what went wrong? Why did "faith" never exceed "me" in these cases? The story seems to be constant. "Her parents were Christian but not devout when she was growing up." "Christian but not devout." Is that even a real thing? James warned that a faith without works was dead faith. And Paul commended the faith of Timothy's mother and grandmother. "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well" (2 Tim 1:5). "Sincere faith." In contrast to James's "dead faith." I cannot tell you how many stories I've heard from both skeptics and believers regarding parents, friends, and family who held an insincere faith and the detrimental effects it had on them.

Jesus doesn't need my sincere faith to bring the lost to Him. He doesn't need me to be faithful, to be godly, to be true. He is fully capable of saving to the uttermost without my help, thank you very much. Nor does my failure to be the mirror of Christ that I'm supposed to be excuse the lost. But we are commanded to make disciples (Matt 28:19), to let God be glorified in our behavior (Matt 5:16), to be genuine believers. We are warned about causing the heathen to blaspheme on account of us (Rom 2:24). So we need to ask ourselves? Is our faith sincere? Are we actually walking the walk? Do we have a living relationship with Christ? I think of those who come to Jesus with sincere belief (versus faith) that they did have a relationship with Him and He declares, "I never knew you" (Matt 7:21-23). We don't want to be a stumbling block because we lack sincere faith. And being faithful, godly, and true are much more effective tools for showing Christ to those around us than the lack thereof.

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