Surveys generally estimate that the number of Christians in America exceeds half the population, and more than a third of those self-identify as born-again believers. Numerically, that translates into tens of millions of believers across the nation.
Attend any of our churches on any given Sunday and you will likely discover a congregation proficient at articulating biblically sound doctrine on the topic of salvation. We rightfully affirm that we are saved by faith alone and not of works. We emphasize the importance of having a personal relationship with Christ and proudly proclaim Him Lord and Savior. We have invited Jesus into our lives and insist we love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Yet for an alarming number of us a surprising lack of evidence exists to support our claims. A careful examination of our lives exposes an unsettling disconnect between professed faith and practiced faith. Too many of us expound on matters of faith using sound doctrine while our lives mirror the world’s more than Christ’s. We have orthodox lips but fallow hearts, and honor God with our words while chasing selfish pursuits. Jesus criticized this form of Christianity as inauthentic and lukewarm; the kind that leads down the path of destruction, not to eternal life.
This disturbing contradiction does more than undermine the church’s effectiveness. It risks leaving millions of churchgoers facing eternal darkness. Why? Because God could care less how orthodox our doctrine is if our lives remain rooted in the flesh. Jesus repeatedly warned against falling into the trap of the Pharisees, who drew near to God with their mouths but whose hearts were far from Him. Their faith was a religious exercise that appeared vibrant and healthy on the outside but inside was full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Consequently, they worshiped God in vain.
If we genuinely love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and truly trust Christ as Savior and believe in our heart He is Lord, then a growing collection of evidence will corroborate those claims. Otherwise we are simply modern-day Pharisees, echoing churchy language and orthodox doctrine like it’s some magic mantra with the power to save.
Take time this week to examine your life and ask yourself a few questions.
1] Do I spend more time on entertainment and leisure than I do pursuing Christ?
2] Do I invest more of my income satisfying my desires than on furthering God’s agenda and advancing His will?
3] Has my heart undergone a total transformation so that my life looks increasingly like Christ’s or are the changes in my life largely superficial?
These are critical questions that deserve careful and thoughtful consideration. Ask God to reveal the truth and avoid answering the questions affirmatively to avoid the bigger issue: that an absence of compelling evidence may reveal an absence of authentic faith.