Sunday, March 7, 2010


I have always been passionate about understanding the ways in which our faith should be evident in our lives, with emphasis on the word evident or evidence. How what we believe gets fleshed out in our day-to-day living. How our orthodoxy, “right belief” affects our orthopraxis, “right living”,  because to me that is the evidence of faith integrity. My understanding is that correct belief should compel correct action. Orthopraxis refers to how our actions as Christians are or are not consistent with the faith we profess. See Jesus first calls us to believe in him as the way the truth and the life – but in the same way He equally calls us to follow Him (The Sermon on the mount is evidence of this). What we do and do not do – is affected in large part by what we believe.

It is true that we can NOT achieve salvation through our good works or good behaviour as explained in Ephesians 2:1-10. Though at the same time the Bible shows that good works and good behaviour is evidence of salvation. James 2:14-24

The book of James is clearly about our behaviours. The major themes addressed by James surround genuine faith and include the connection of works to faith or stated behaviours to beliefs.  James is a book that probes the orthopraxis of believers. How does your orthodoxy “right belief” affect your orthopraxis “right living”? If the root is Christ, then what fruit is being produced as a result? James exhorts the reader “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” [1:22] else, “Faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action is dead” [2:17] Let me put this another way a pithy little quote for you “Right doctrine that does not translate into right-living is rotten”

An old boatman painted the word “faith” on one oar of his boat and “works” on the other. He was asked his reason for this. In answer, he slipped the oar with “faith” into the water and rowed. The boat, of course, made a very tight circle. Returning to the dock, the boatman then said, “Now, let’s try ‘works’ without ‘faith’ and see what happens. The oar marked “works” was put in place and the boatman began rowing with just the “works” oar. Again, the boat went into a tight circle but in the opposite direction.

When the boatman again returned to the wharf, he interpreted his experiment in these strong and convincing words, “You see, to make a passage across the lake, one needs both oars working simultaneously in order to keep the boat in a straight and narrow way. If one does not have the use of both oars, he makes no progress either across the lake nor as a Christian.

In essence we are saved by believing and our belief is evidenced by our behaviours. It is our faith acted out. It is our belief in and love of God that compels us to action and obedience to His commands and calling.

So I maintain that our Faith or beliefs should transform our lives. That there should be a falling away of the things of the world, and an ever increasing abundance of fruit of the spirit. That our beliefs, if they are truly believed will and must affect our behaviour and in turn our world. Now to those who might wish to dispute this with me, I in my limited knowledge would point them again towards the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, James, Jeremiah, even to the founding Father of Methodism – John Wesley.  In fact this is not an uncommon teaching, obviously many of Jesus teachings (most notably, the Sermon on the Mount) directly or indirectly focus on our behaviours. Believing in Him meant a change of lifestyle quite the contrary often to what His followers accustomed to.

If I truly believe something it naturally affects my behaviour.  For example I believe placing my hand on a hot stove will burn it so I don’t do it, now as this scars I've incurred indicate, I may stumble and mess up and get burned, but I try to avoid it at all costs.

If we were to discover that someone had hidden a number of cameras throughout the places we patron, our homes,  our places of work, where we work-out, places we go to eat – and that video was to serve as a stand alone documentary on what we believe based solely on our behaviours – what conclusions would the audience draw. Would there be enough evidence to convict us of our beliefs.

Yet I know all to well what Paul meant when he uttered the words, "I know not why I do the things I know I shouldn’t and yet can not do the things I know I should". My behaviour does not always align with my actions – in fact it falls short far more than I would like to admit.  As I look at why this occurs I find I am faced with 3 scenarios when it comes to the struggle of balancing my beliefs with my actions...

1. APATHY - I may believe something – but not really care, not make it a priority – instead I become complacent and/or complicit.
2. I may say I believe, because I have been told that is what I am supposed to believe but as I examine my lack of action and delve deeper, I realize I am not sure what I believe and therefore am not compelled to a response.
3. There is a sin area in my life that is blocking my behaviour from aligning with my belief.

God's grace, God's word, Prayer &; Repentance, go a long way to overcoming those 3 areas of struggle.

Is orthodoxy important? Definitely! Is orthopraxis more important? You be the judge.  "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 7:21. In the end wont we be judged for our orthopraxis much more than our orthodoxy?

I'll close with a Shane Claiborne quote that sums all this up beautifully "We need converts in the best sense of the word, people who are marked by the renewing of their minds and imaginations, who no longer conform to the pattern that is destroying out world. Otherwise, we have only believers, and believers are a dime a dozen now a days. What the world needs is people who believe so much in another world they cannot help but begin enacting it now."

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