I think most people agree that Christians can oftentimes be some of the least tolerant and most judgmental people you’ve ever met. I’m pretty sure that all our reactions to the intolerance and judgment was some distinct form of being turned off to some degree at least to the person, if not to the religion as a whole. I know I have had both these reactions at times. Here is where I need to separate myself.
I am this person. Yes, quietly in my heart I judge Christians, Agnostics and Atheists alike. However, being a Christian myself, I judge the Christians exceedingly harshly. Yes, I am part of the problem. Yes, deep down in my heart I’m as ugly as the rest, if not more so . No, I’m not comfortable with all these facts.
The long and the short of it is that I’m trying to derive self-worth by judging your faith. What is faith, though? Sunday school survey says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Now that I’ve established that, what does faith look like? Once again, Sunday school survey says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17) “This doesn’t really answer my question. What does faith look like, so I can create a guidelines for judging?” says my dark heart.
There is a quiet voice that contradicts what I want to believe about James’ words. This passage explains everything I could need to know about faith. Faith is active, compelling us to press forward, but your direction forward does not necessarily look like my pressing onward. In fact, in most cases they may seem completely tangential. This isn’t creating much of a guidelines and my flesh, the baser depths of me, despises this fact.
Faith is beautiful. It is unique, not to be hidden under a rock, but maybe not necessarily to be understood by all. That’s right, faith is just as unique as the person who possesses it.
If someone you come across does not agree with your faith, do not go running for the hills. Remember, our faith is not meant to please others and cannot be judged by men who cannot see the heart (1 Corinthians 2:11). Our faiths are meant to be shared for sure through actions and words, but each respected. In fact, Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” I’d say we should be committed to sharing our faiths respectfully so that we can all learn and grow from one another.
We don’t talk about religion or politics. Fine then, I’m not telling you to talk about your religion. Faith is not a religion, it is an individual relationship with our loving God and Maker. God is just as real as any other person you see walking around this planet, so talking about your relationship with Him should be a totally natural and normal thing to do.
Now, before you go and start burning down church doors, there is a slight caveat to this post. The God you have faith in is relatively well described in the Bible by many accounts. If your faith leads you to burning down abortion clinics, protesting military funerals or other actions that may be considered hateful, you may want to reevaluate the god in which that faith is placed. I may run into some cynics at this point, but the God of the Bible is one of love, grace and mercy. Sure, He did his fair share of smiting particularly in the Old Testament, but I trust deeply that those smote were beyond any other method of recourse and served a higher purpose.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:9-11
Let our acts of faith proceed accordingly.