This is a letter to the person I had a recent conversation with about living your faith. I write this because I love you too much to not write it and share it. I think there are others who need to hear this too.
You are determined, fearless, and confident. You are positive, motivating, and a delight to spend time with. So that is why I say this with love and respect, but also out of necessity: you are strong in life… but weak in faith. The faith you have is strong in conviction, but weak in practice. This in no way changes how I feel about you or the love I send your way, in fact, it only increases it.
Please understand, you are either all in or not in at all. There is no in-between area. A true commitment to Christ comes with carrying out his commands. Being a citizen of his Kingdom is free to all, but we are asked to expand and extend it. If you are a squatter in the Kingdom, squatter’s rights do not apply, as your faith is in short supply.
Jesus shared with his disciples the Great Commission: “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28:18-20). This charge was very specific. Jesus did not follow it up with “that is, if you are comfortable with all of this.” He did however add, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He will never abandon us, so why would you deny others of knowing his amazing and endless love for them when he has such love for you?
Through tears you told me you were raised a “certain way” and that is how you live your life. You told me you do not openly profess your faith and encourage others through Christ because it makes you uncomfortable, that people can see you are “good” because you are a “good person.” You told me how good people get into heaven and how God is OK with that.
If only it worked that way. But it doesn’t. That is not what I have read in the Bible. Let me be honest and upfront. The thought process behind this is a disservice to anyone who is not saved because it gives them a false understanding of what it means to follow Christ and be saved. You can’t call yourself a Christian and bear no fruit. That seems to be an oxymoron. Among mankind, you are either a good tree or a bad tree. We are told in Matthew 7:17-20: “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
Just prior, Matthew 7:15 refers to false prophets who come dressed as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” Is not a false prophet also someone who professes to be something they do not live out? You can believe in Santa Claus too, but that doesn’t make him real. Jesus is real and it’s your faith that makes him alive in you through the Holy Spirit. How little your faith must be if you choose to not share your claimed Savior to others!
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in
me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.”
– John 15:5
Jesus said, apart from him, you can do nothing. The fruit you bear is directly proportional to your connection with him (the whole vine and branches thing). He also has a distinct disdain for lukewarm Christians. His words for the Church in Laodicea stung worse than 39 lashes: “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15-16). Jesus is saying if you are riding the fence on faith, he will spit you out. Is this how you want to be, lukewarm and complacent so as to have Jesus discard you by the equivalent of throwing up?
What I challenge you with is this: jump out of the boat, into the water, and walk with Jesus. Just like Peter did, but unlike him, don’t be so quick as to lose your faith and sink. To truly be a Christ-follower, we are asked to be active in your faith and love for others. Jesus told the rich man to sell all his belongings and give them to the poor, then come follow him to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17-31). The man’s face fell as he heard this because he was not willing to act on his faith. He wanted in based on being a good person. Your comfort zone has become your settlement – the place where you have settled your faith.
In his best-seller Crazy Love, Francis Chan wrote “I fully believe that we are saved by grace, through faith, by the gift of God, and that true faith manifests itself through our actions. As James writes, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (2:17). The lives of many people who call themselves “Christians” in America lack manifestations of a vital and active faith.”
Out of the sincerest love, I ask you to no longer lack the vitality, opportunity, and activity your faith requires of you and gives you. You are not alone in this journey. Christ is community, and we are all in this together. Let your faith show through in your words and actions. Stand strong in your faith as you live through Christ who lives in you.
Your brother in Christ,