And I sat right down. Seriously, the moment deserved nothing less from me. Sometimes you have to stop and sit with the weight of a statement. Those times when God’s truth and presence is so heavy you need to sit with it for a minute, process it and let the grace of God wash over you.
As much as I know it shouldn’t be unexpected, the presence and perfect timing of God shows up in the most unexpected of moments. The beauty is that you unmistakably know it is God at work. See, this past weekend during YLC (Youth Leader Core) I led a session called, “Faith Values.” As leaders we chose sessions that interested us, that we had a connection to the material and an ability to lead. This one jumped out at me. Boiling it down the session objectives were to 1- list beliefs and their impact on daily living. 2- decide upon actions based on key beliefs and values.
…and I just lost some of you…
I promise this is important stuff. And I kinda had to say that on Saturday too. ‘Cause let’s face it, sitting down and identifying what we believe, what beliefs are most important and how those beliefs affect our daily living can seem like drudgery when we just want to get to the “being the hands and feet of Jesus,” “world-changers” kind of stuff of our walk with Christ.
But here’s the thing: to walk the walk we need to know where we’re going or it is likely we won’t ever make it. And it sure seems silly to know where we’re going and never take a step to get there.
And that right there is why this topic, though it may give some of us a headache to work through, is anything but a waste of time to process. When God met us this weekend the moment was so powerful I had to sit down. Actually I had to ask the person to repeat himself and then take a moment to let it sink in. Doing the hard work, sometimes tedious talk of examining our beliefs and working through the life action stemming from those beliefs can be powerful as we allow the Spirit to refine our understanding of God, who we are in Him and what that means for our lives.
How do we know where to start? If you spend any time around me then a question that inevitably comes up is this, “What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean for you to say you are a believer?” I’ve heard many answers (and I’ve heard many people struggle to answer). In the most basic terms, the answers people give me contain these: 1- things a Christian believes. 2- things a Christian does.
A problem comes for us as Christians when there is a disparity, a disparity between belief and action. What do I mean by that? Sometimes we have faith beliefs but those do not translate to action, other times there is action with no cohesive faith belief system, that is where disparity exists. Disparity leads to dissatisfaction. And why wouldn’t that be the natural result?
How can you be satisfied with a life filled with belief that doesn’t move to action? People are quick to call us out on being hypocritical if our values aren’t matched in how we live. When looking at our own lives, we see a shallow faith, faith that never gets off the ground level foundation, belief that never takes root to grow into the fruit of the Spirit.
Conversely, how can you be satisfied acting without a cohesive belief system? Actions can’t satisfy when they aren’t leading you with purpose; they’ll leave you feeling unfulfilled, empty, pulled in a thousand different directions. You can do all of the “right things”, every last thing that seems good at the time and still come up empty and life seeming pointless.
Think about the soul-searching, faith-testing questions people ask:
-What am I supposed to be doing with my life?
-Why don’t I feel fulfilled by what I’m doing?
-Why isn’t my walk with God growing like I know it should?
-I’m doing all the things a believer should do, going all the places I should go, saying everything I should say… Why doesn’t it seem like my faith makes a difference?
It’s that disparity causing havoc in our lives. The dissonance found when our beliefs and actions are not unified. What a difference it makes when we know what we believe, more than simply memorizing faith statements, more than just reciting lists, more than quoting the important scriptures. But when we identify what we believe, prioritize the beliefs of key importance, and evaluate how those beliefs translate to daily action… then we can live with intention.
“Living Intentionally” is one of those catch phrases that comes in and out of popularity. I can honestly say that I never jumped on the bandwagon. On Saturday God challenged me to look at that anew. The disparity between belief and action explained so much of my heart’s struggles and the times I’ve felt my life wandering. The practice of living intentionally offers hope.
A major stumbling block to living intentionally is that there are just way too many things on the list of important beliefs and faith actions. Just writing that sentence brings a smile to my face because every time I struggle with that overwhelming thought that there are just way too many things I need to believe or do or follow as a Christ-follower… God brings this scripture to my mind.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
While the Pharisee posed the question in an attempt to test Jesus, that question resonates deeply with me. It seems either end of the spectrum equally debilitating, not being able identify anything as “most important” or finding way too many things of importance to be able determine which has “greatest importance.”
So I start there with Jesus’ words.
- Love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.
- Love my neighbor as myself.
So, how about you? Are any of the seeds of dissatisfaction in your life right now traced back to a disparity between belief and action? Do you have beliefs in your life that are not reflected in how you live? Are you doing all the right things yet finding yourself struggling to see the why behind them?
Maybe, like me, you could benefit from working this through a little more. Take some time this week to study scripture to identify key beliefs that the Bible tells us are core to our faith. How do those core beliefs inform our view of issues in our daily living from how we spend our time, how we talk, what we choose to spend our money on, how we interact with people, how we make decisions, etc. Reflection upon your life over the next week, identify ways your beliefs and actions diverged, why that occurred and action steps to bring those in line.
God- I ask that you guide us as we endeavor to grow deeper in our walk with you. May the Spirit give us clear understanding as we seek truth in your Word to know who you are, who we are in you and what that means for our daily living. Reveal to us ways that our daily living does not reflect what we know to be true. Give us the strength of character and discipline needed to guide our daily actions with your truth. Thank you for drawing us ever nearer to you through your sanctifying work in our lives. Amen
Here are some scriptures that I’ll be studying, really challenging myself to go beyond the superficial understanding to the deep live-giving beliefs they hold and the life-guiding actions they provide. 1 John 4:7-12, Ephesians 2:1-10, Romans 12:1-2, Micah 6:8, Ephesians 4:32
So, that’s where I’m starting this week. How about you? I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on living intentionally by evaluating your beliefs and actions. Send me a message or an email.