Thursday, April 9, 2009

Faith & Reason (written 3/25/09)

“Even if there were no Heaven and no hell, would you still follow Jesus? Would you follow Him for the life, joy, and fulfillment he gives you right now?”

- Tony Campolo

When I read this quote, it caught me off-guard. I mean, we basically use the fact that Jesus can keep you out of hell as a main “selling point” for why people should believe (see Pascal’s Wager). If you had asked me, when I first acknowledged Jesus as my Savior, why I did it, I would have said something like, “Because Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins.” The theology’s not perfect, but I was only in elementary school.

No wonder the church has such a difficult time getting Christians to live out their faith. We turn choosing to follow Christ into a one-time deal. If I just accept Christ, then I’ll be covered. I can go on living life as usual, AND be saved from hell! I don’t blame people for being confused; the emphasis often seems to be on making that “choice.” How many times have you been in church when the congregation is asked if any of them chose to follow or led someone to Christ recently. We have public alter calls at concerts and conferences and revivals. I even know of several churches and missions organizations who include the number of new “converts” in a yearly report. Is that how we measure success? Now, I know we like to see hard data, even in religion, but I think we’ve gotten a little carried away.

In reality, faith is not a one-time choice, but a choice we must make everyday, sometimes many times per day. It is a lifetime conversion process. The choice is not only about acknowledging Jesus as my Savior, but choosing to follow His will instead of my own, choosing to follow His directions instead of my own ideas, and choosing to turn away from sin. It’s talking to dirty beggars, playing with lice-infested kids, not being bitter to those who have wronged us, sharing what we have, choosing to spend time focused on God rather than watching TV or surfing the internet, smiling at people we pass on the street, touching those infected with HIV/AIDS, who are rarely touched, loving the least…it is not easy to follow Him.

But as they say, “Easy things are rarely worth doing, and things worth doing are rarely easy.”

The catch is that the payoff comes once we have already made the decision to follow, to sacrifice, to obey. That’s when we are shown the “life, joy, and fulfillment” in Christ. After all, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we cannot see” -Hebrews 11:1

How would you answer Tony Campolo’s question?


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