In the spring of 2004, I hopped into a college acquaintance’s jeep with a couple other girls and cruised towards the movie theater, laughing and joking all the way. The Passion of the Christ had recently come out and I felt compelled to see it. We parked and walked in with our normal energy and silliness having no idea the shock which awaited us. Growing up Christian, we were no stranger to passion plays. How would this movie be any different?
It was different. It was graphic. It left nothing to the imagination. It removed any possible fleeting thought which said, “Maybe Christ did not actually suffer all that much.” The beating. The crown of thorns. The nails. It reached into the center of my being and sliced me up in a painful, but necessary, way. It woke me. I walked out of the theater differently than I walked in – as did everyone else – in complete silence. (We looked like we were leaving a mime convention.) We were literally rendered speechless. The ride home that day was also silent and all I could do after returning to my dorm room was sleep. I had no words or energy for anything else.
Fifteen years later, I still occasionally think about that day… when I laugh at something which should instead spark righteous anger… when I gloss over sin… when I spend more time stressing over the details of my Easter meal than marveling at, and thanking, Christ. Remembering how I could not even speak after watching a detailed reenactment of Christ’s final hours (which turned out to be not so final, praise God!), I feel convicted of how lightly I often treat the gospel.
On that day in the Spring of 2004, I woke up from my nap. Slowly, but surely, the powerful visions in the movie subsided and I went on with my life. It reminds me of how many of us tuck the gospel away in a tidy box after Resurrection festivities conclude. No one is more guilty of this than I am.
Last week we asked the question, “Who is Jesus to you?” This week we are asking, “How does your belief in, and on, Jesus affect how you live your life?” We can claim to know and love God while simultaneously proving otherwise in our speech and actions. Or, we can live as those who have been redeemed and changed through Christ.
The first and most important question is: Have I been changed? (i.e., Have I repented [cf. Mark 1:15]? Am I a new creation [cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17]? Has God removed my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh [cf. Ezekiel 36:26]?)
The second question with nearly equal importance is: If I have been changed, am I living as if I am changed?
Pull out your Creed notebooks, get some coffee, and work through the questions below. For believers, how we choose to live our lives should not only be noted in our creeds, but the center of our creeds.
- How do I show my faith in Christ in my daily life?
- What role does church play in my life? (e.g., help me with my problems, equip me for sharing the faith, godly fellowship, etc.)
- What are my beliefs about witnessing? How do I live out those beliefs? How do I wish to improve?
- How do I desire to live for Christ in my marriage?
- How can my significant other and I serve God better together than apart?
- Within my circle of family, friends, and acquaintances, who do I most admire in the faith? How can I develop a mentor relationship with him or her? Is there a godly couple we admire who might mentor us?
- If I was accused of being a Christ follower, would there be enough evidence to convict me?
What Does the Bible Say?
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3, ESV)
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (I Peter 3:14-16, ESV)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16, ESV)
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17, ESV)
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17, ESV)
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV)
How Does Your Faith Impact Your Daily Life?
What do you believe about living out your faith? What does you boyfriend or girlfriend believe? Do you both see eye-to-eye on what it means to live for Christ? In which ways do you agree and in which ways do you disagree? Did you uncover any red flags or concerns during your discussion? Do you feel more peaceful and confident at the end of your talk?
One issue we occasionally encounter between the couples we coach is religious lifestyle frustration. It happens when one person wants to live for Christ and the other does not. Usually, the situation is not so cut and dry. Often, one person desires a closer walk with God and his or her significant other claims to want the same without showing any proof of such a desire. My heart goes out to the believing partner who hopes, prays, often sees no change, and is left with a difficult decision – marry an unbeliever or go our separate ways? We cannot will ourselves to want to live for Christ. It comes as the result of repentance and a supernatural heart transformation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Dear precious readers, please do not choose a spouse who simply says he or she wants to live for Christ. Choose a spouse who shows signs of life and the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22-23).
Let us make it a priority to honor Christ in our actions and to keep Him at the forefront of our minds no matter how stressed or busy we may get. Below are a few ideas for living out your faith this coming week.
Seven Ways to Show Christ to Others this Week:
- Help an elderly neighbor with yard work or another chore.
- Respond kindly to an offense. Humble yourself and offer grace instead of excuses or retribution.
- Babysit for a single mother who needs to run some errands or have some time to herself.
- Go witnessing with a group of mature, believing friends – travel in groups and be wise.
- Surprise someone with an unexpected blessing: a coffee, a meal, a free service, or just a relaxed visit and encouraging talk.
- Leave a large tip and a personal note sharing your faith with your server.
- Stay off your phone. Go outside. Talk to your neighbors. Go for a walk. Smile at people. Say hello. Strike up a conversation. We miss so many opportunities when consumed in our digital world.
When Christ is the center of your life and you believe your purpose is to serve and honor Him, you will never feel compatible with someone who does not believe the same way. No matter how much someone declares love and devotion for Christ, the proof is in his or her actions. As you continue to get to know each other, notice how he or she shows (or does not show) faith in various situations.
Part of the reason we believe in longer courtships and shorter engagements is so that couples have time to see each other in complete truth. Anyone can put on a show, even fooling themselves, for a while; but, after several seasons, one’s true self is likely to emerge. Once the marital commitment is made, there is little reason to stretch out the engagement. It only leads to greater temptation. Long dating and short engagements are the way to go!
As you go forth this week, ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate opportunities to share your faith with others, as individuals and as a couple. See if He does not just answer your prayer. ~smile~
What does living out your faith mean to you and your significant other?