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05 January 2008

What We DO Do

Do you ever define your walk with Christ by the things that you don't do? For example, one might offer these kinds of [valid] things as evidences of a personal relationship with Christ:

- They don't curse
- They don't exceed the speed limit when they drive
- They don't "party"
- Etc.

But I wonder if pointing to things like this as evidences of a flourishing relationship with Christ is similar to defining a lit candle by the things it doesn't do:

- It doesn't put out coldness
- It doesn't emanate darkness
- It doesn't smell bad (a matter of opinion, sure)

Just as there are many inanimate objects that share some of these same traits with a candle (a picture frame, a cup of coffee, a photo of your grandfather, etc.), there are many "good" and moral people who exhibit the first list of characteristics of a typical believer, but are completely opposed to Christ, Christianity, or theism in general.

What outward characteristics do I exhibit that clearly define me as a Christ-follower? What do I do that tells people, by my life, that I'm different? The don'ts are good -- rooting out the wrong things in my life is a process that is necessary, and should go right along with my growth in Christ. Along the way, though, there should be good works that naturally become a part of my life. In Psalm 34:14 and 1 Peter 3:11, the second half of the "Turn away from evil" phrase is "and do good."

It was mentioned in the comments the other day that with so many churches around us, it's surprising that our community is not obviously changing for the better. This makes me wonder: are we in the church really taking positive, active steps that show that we mean what we say? Or, in following 1 Timothy 2:2 and living quiet, peaceable lives, are we being too quiet?


Tony M said...

(heh-heh... Dean said "do do"!)

Anyway, how right. In fact, what did Jesus describe as the greatest commandment? "Loving" - not avoiding particular "bad" things. I think I'd mentioned something before about how, rather than trying to avoid bad things, we should focus on doing good things, loving. But I can't seem to find that comment, so I'll repeat some of it here.

Like it says in 1 Peter 2:9-12, we should "keep away from worldly desires" - but the next verse shows how: "live properly" (I know I'm slightly taking this second out of context, but the application is, I think, valid). By focusing on the good, rather than on the bad, we'll by default avoid the bad things.

It's the striving and trying, attempting to be like Jesus, that will keep the bad out of our lives.

Reaching back to your candle illustration, Jesus said (in Matthew 5:14-16), "let your good deeds [light] shine out for all to see" - and why? Not for our own benefit, but "so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

So, yes, I agree that we often (mis-)define our Christianity by what we don't do rather than by what we do do (heh-heh, I said "do do"). And that's not a good definition - it's not good to define something by what it's not, rather than by what it is. But I think I'm being both redundant and repetitious now, and saying the same thing all over again as well.

Tony M said...

Also consider James 2:26:

" is dead without good works."

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