By James A. Washington, Publisher of the Dallas Weekly, NNPA Newswire Contributor
A minister friend of mine once told me that a person can have theology but no faith. He told me this because at one time I was considering going to school to study the bible. My friend, recognizing that I was a rookie trying to crack the starting lineup for Christ, suggested maybe a different course of action would be better for me and I now know he was correct.
You see most of my life I could intellectualize myself out of or into any situation. Therefore, as you can imagine, my brain was easily corrupted by Satan so much so that I never really accepted Christ into my life, although I considered myself a good and decent person.
That was the point according to my minister friend. Many people can quote scripture and are experts in what the bible says, but clearly, they have little to no faith. So instead of surrounding yourself with academicians, surround yourself with people who are believers first.
I have since found his words prophetic, because one of my blind spots dealing with faith was the hypocritical nature of scripture quoting Christians, who obviously demonstrated little faith from Sunday to Sunday. From the pulpit to the pew, it was enough to keep me out of church. That mindset you see made a winner out of the devil and a loser out of me.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6. Now for people of faith, that makes a lot of sense. I hear all the time that God is not a God of confusion. He has in fact made this thing rather simple.
I believe James when he says faith by itself if not accompanied by some display of works is dead. I now also believe that faith, real faith in the Almighty, demands a change in us. Faith demands that we do something, act in such a manner that those who know us best, see an attempt to walk in the ways of Christ.
There is nothing intellectual about this and I’m glad to have been hungry enough for the Word, that it led me to others’ hunger just like mine.
Now when I go to church and see what I deem hypocrisy, I cannot respond intellectually or even emotionally anymore. I am not now nor have I ever been in a position to cast the first stone.
Isn’t that the point? “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16. Human beings sin and make mistakes against God. It is in our nature. Faith enters the picture as we come to realize the mystery of the gospel. Jesus died to save us from us. Hence, God’s grace gives us insight that in Christ, salvation is still ours if we only give all things up to the indisputable mercy of God and His love for us.
Once you step to Him, then life and death become pretty clear. Faith dictates that we know all of us are not worthy. We are all sinners. We all belong in the Lord’s house as often as possible, because we all do things in our own best interest as opposed to God’s. Hypocrites are hypocrites. I can’t do anything about that. I can however, recognize, how important it is to acknowledge that I’m a long way from being perfect. So is everyone else.
One of the things a faith walk will do is to give you the strength necessary to admit and then submit. Being with others who know this is as important as knowing it for yourself.
At that point theology becomes obvious and faith becomes tangible, so tangible in fact that you can see it, touch it and subsequently act on it. It doesn’t make you perfect but it sure does show, or at least it’s supposed to. May God bless and keep you always.