As persecution around the globe continues to climb upward and religious discrimination in the U.S. increases, Christians must to live up — however imperfectly — to the faith we talk about so freely.
The Gospel we believe in is powerful and unrelenting; God’s Word will never return void. But our faith must be authentic if we expect to endure with victory the obstacles — physical, emotional, and psychological — we are promised to face.
In his first letter to the Church of Corinth, the apostle Paul warned against an insincere faith. He wrote:
Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. But I will come — and soon — if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power.
For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?
We desperately need that kind of accountability in the American church. As the issues that splinter our society become ever more divisive, every believer needs to be prepared to both follow Paul’s leadership and to model the humility of those in Corinth, always ready to reflect on our faith, willing, in sincere humility, to determine if our belief is truly “living by God’s power” or “just a lot of talk.”
As secular society drifts further and further away from the morality of the Bible, Christians can’t give in to that gravitational pull. In response to that movement, believers have to stand in the gap, pulling unrelentingly — by the power of the Holy Spirit — in the other direction.
The best way to do that is to speak boldly the Gospel and then to live it out, to truly love what is right and oppose what is evil, not just love God with our words, but obey him with our minds, bodies, and spirits, because that’s what it really means to love him.
In Psalm 119, the author wrote, “How I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.” And in Psalm 1, it says “blessed” is the person “whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”
It’s not always easy to love God’s commands, and it’s only going to become more difficult, especially as issues like abortion, drug use, and same-sex marriage dominate our cultural psyche. To truly love God isn’t to compromise or to step aside from these difficult topics; loving God is to love what he says, to walk boldly into conversations about these issues and listen to hear before sharing the truth found in Scripture.
We can’t look like society or stay silent when culture deviates from God’s perfect ways. God is good and he wants only what is best for us, and what’s best for us is more and more at odds with what the world says is best for us.
Jesus told his disciples in John 18:36, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
Those who are in Christ don’t belong here; this is temporary. But while we’re here, we have to love boldly, obey passionately, and hold each other accountable in everything.
We have to do more than just talk about the Gospel. We have to live it.