“It is one thing to believe that COVID-19 is a serious personal threat. However, it is quite another thing to change your behavior such that you better protect yourself from it. What we really need are people who change their behavior to wearing masks, washing hands and socially distancing.” Essentially, that is what a medical expert recently said when asked about people’s common response to COVID-19 in our Country today. Point well taken.
Could the same thing also be said today of our Christian faith? Many say that they believe in Jesus Christ yet actually have little to no change in behavior as a result. Their orthodoxy and their orthopraxis just don’t seem to line up. Some might say, “How could this be?”
In our Country today we are a mixed. Some don’t take COVID seriously, and keep on living as usual. Others say they believe that COVID is real but do little to change their ways in dealing with it. However, there remain those whose beliefs about COVID inform their behavior, as if you can’t have one without the other. The same is true in our culture when it comes to people’s beliefs and their behavior.
“Isn’t it enough to just believe?” Actually, what we truly need in this Country, especially now, are people who not only say they believe in Jesus Christ, but their beliefs inform their personal behavior. It’s one thing to have a changed language, however it is quite another to have a changed life as a result. It is just not good enough to say that you are a Christian. The better good is to have your very behavior in your life, what you actually do, reflect that belief.
As James wrote, But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18) Behavior speaks loudly and counts every time, while words simply battle on. We may promise incredible things, yet in the end it is our actual practices that reflect our true credibility. You simply can’t have convincing beliefs without corresponding behavior.
So, where does that leave you in reference to your Christian beliefs? Where does that leave me? Although what we say to others matters, what matters more is what we actually do. People today are watching those of us who are professing Christians (Christ-followers) to see what we actually practice. Will they hear only boasting, proud impassioned words or will they also see gentle, humble actions? Do our personally held beliefs actually inform our behaviors? Good question.
In this often divided and skeptical culture of ours, no matter who’s side you’re on, one thing is certain — Beliefs and behavior truly belong together. You can’t have one without the other. They should not be separated (even though in my own life I am sometimes guilty of pretending otherwise). Your faith is not personal! It should be transparent enough to be visible to all.
Honestly, my belief in Jesus Christ has changed, and is changing, my behavior. I am clearly “a work in progress.” But, the work Christ began in me will be completed one day. (Philippians 1:6). So until then … — RWO/MAST
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV