No matter how much I struggle with my faith in God… no matter how much I tend to use my limited reason and knowledge to try to find a logical explanation for things, no matter how I try to be a fool by relying on my own wisdom, I always end up going back to asking God for his intervention and mercy. There is always the realization that my human knowledge and reasoning is only a limited ability in this limitless universe. We are great beings, but not the greatest.
I recently was clarified by some friends in the blogging world that according to James and Paul in the New Testament, If we claim that we are Christians and have faith, but continue to live sinful (selfish) lives, it does not mean that we have faith and simply need works to be justified and be “saved”. It actually means that we still don’t have faith in the first place. Having faith in Jesus and the Gospel is equal to living a life of genuine surrender to what Jesus commanded us to do: love our neighbors as ourselves. If we claim that we have faith in Jesus, but continue to cheat, steal, lie, hold grudges, discriminate, create war, etc, then we really do not have this faith, and we simply have faith in our own strengths to be “good”, even though we might try to say we are doing God’s will.
Faith involves a genuine surrender, a profound change of life, not a superficial or self pleasing change of life. Let me use an analogy. If the mirror says that it can reflect my face, but I do not see my face in it because it is too dirty, then it has no reflection of my face even if it says it does. The mirror’s claim that it reflects is false. The faith that it has that it reflects my face is false. It is dead faith. But if it truly and genuinely decides to clean itself, and then it says it can reflect my face, then it will have true faith, because I will see my face reflected on it. The mirror’s faith is proved by the reflection. My true faith will be reflected by my genuine lifestyle.
Now, we can engage in religious debates about what does it mean to be “saved”, if hell exists, whether non-believers go to Heaven or not, and so forth…. while the rest of the world suffers from hunger, injustice, wars, corruption, greed, and other selfish and sinful acts. We are still distracted with doctrinal debates and romantic relationships with an ideal Jesus, while the reality of the injustice of this world continues. The real Jesus, I believe, commanded us to fight for righteousness, to make peace, to be humble, to have clean hearts, to mourn, and to be poor in spirit. Jesus taught us to be perfect as God is perfect. This is salvation.
Driving down the road, I came across a sign in front of a church that read “God: And you think it’s hot here?” What exactly is this message supposed to do? Encourage people to turn to God for fear of burning up in hell? I rather feel intimidated by this sign instead of encouraged or ministered! This is being extreme. Foolish.
So my thought is that it is a matter of balancing my life between being too rational to the point of denying the existence of God, and being too religious limiting my spiritual growth. Either way would be foolish. But staying in the middle, by maintaining faith and still use reason, is the best way to grow spiritually. I must avoid being too rational or too religious. Either way would separate me from God.
” For merely listening to the law does not make us right with God, it is obeying the law that makes us right in His sight. ” Romans 2:13
“The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no God'” Psalm 53:1
“Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
— Matthew 7:24–27