How should faith and reason work together?
Which is the real you? Are we truly reflecting our inner life?
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)
It’s bad enough that we forget what we look like, but what do others really see when they look at us? Do we have a Sunday face, a smiley, earnest expression of benevolence that we switch on between journeys to and from our church? Do we even have a special social face that folk see when they meet us, very different from our normal expression when we’re safe between the four walls of our homes? I have been told that I have a telephone voice, a poshed-up voice that I only use when answering the phone, but very different from the everyday drone. Of course, I fervently deny this! But then again ...
Which is the real you? Are you reflecting on the outside what you’re really going through on the inside, or are you equipped with a full set of masks as if life is just one big masquerade ball? Do we always feel smiley and benevolent on the inside?
Let’s back-track a little. We have seen the importance of living Hebraically, in good relationship with God and man, and thinking Hebraically, with our thoughts governed by our faith in God. Now we must consider what is going to flow out of this arrangement, how we are meant to act Hebraically.
Do we have God centred lives? If this were so, then it ought to make a difference. So what are the boxes most likely to be ticked in a survey of “How can you spot a Christian in your neighbourhood”? Judgemental ... tick. Self-absorbed ... tick. Arrogant ... tick. These seem to be the badges of dishonour displayed by your average Christian living in the affluent West (though, of course, not always).
There’s a common saying that the only Bible some folk will read is you. It’s your actions, your good conduct, that is going to attract them or repel them. So we’ve got to make sure our conduct is ... good. Simple!
If we don’t do this then the possibility for damage is immense, not just for individuals but also for the Church. Let’s face it, in the UK the Church is seen as a joke, any respect for the timeless truths of Christianity undermined by the antics of our current batch of leaders. Here are some recent headlines in the secular press:
Church encourages worshippers into debt so they can donate more.
He’s ignorant, crude and un-Christian. But don’t expect the spineless Church to banish Bishop Pete.
‘Bonking Bishop’ loses dismissal claims over affairs.
Faith healer quits after ‘unhealthy relationship’ with female co-worker.
Notice that these headlines were from the secular press, not the Christian press. These stories – with fresh additions more-or-less daily - are read largely by non-Christians and serve to bolster the negative stereotypes of a crumbling monolith of diminishing influence, over-absorbed by in-fighting and only waking from its slumber to make the odd unwelcome political or social declaration, rather than Biblical proclamations or prophetic warnings.
Accountability faces outwards as well as inwards. Although all Christians have responsibility for each other, there’s a broader picture painted. Our ultimate accountability is to God Himself – He who neither slumbers nor sleeps – and if He has put us in positions of responsibility within the Church, to the extent that we can feasibly have a national voice, then why do so few speak out with conviction, certainty and power? How many are bearing good fruit for the Lord?
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:19-21)
Jesus says this about us:
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
Are we truly radiant people, do folk marvel at our good deeds and feel attracted to our God as a consequence? In some cases, yes, but mostly ... no!
The Hebraic way is social not individualistic. It can be summed up by one of the sayings of the Jewish sages, little is gained for the progress of the world if one person achieves perfection and holiness. Also, do not segregate yourself from the community. It stresses community all the time.
Just a few things to consider.
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You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.