God is not interested in showing the world how hard we can work. God is interested in the world seeing how we can love and, as a result, how we handle His gift of life. The mark of the early church was not, “See how hard they work!” but, “See how well they love!” When our Christian faith becomes all about beliefs and works (what we believe about Jesus and what we accomplish for Jesus) instead of relationships, then what we are really in love with is our own thoughts and opinions and doings.The focus is no longer God but us.
The height of this problem is when we trust God in order to get something. This is not faith, although it has been called the faith message for many years. This is simply self-interest and people attempting to “use God” for their own benefit. True faith is trusting God because of who God is – trusting God when there is nothing to get, when everything is gone, when only God is left. True faith is always focused on God, our heavenly Father and is not effected by our circumstances and situations. True faith in God propels us outward, away from our self-centered existence and focus so that we see others the way Jesus sees them – and we are then drawn to love them as Jesus loves them.
So, we need to go back to a foundational truth which is still an issue in the lives of many disciples today. We simply need to “believe that God is,” as the book of Hebrews states. That He is love; that He has loved us while we were (and are) yet sinners; that He first loved us and thus enables us to love Him, ourselves, and others – and, in fact, commands that we do so. As we walk with Him who is love (and we do so by faith) we will sense and experience faith, hope, and love rising within our born again spirit – and, as 1 Corinthians states, “the greatest of these is love.” Knowing and experiencing His love allows us to have hope. Hope in the future then gives us power in the present. Again, as Paul writes, without this hope (based in His love) we are much to be pitied. And, as Paul states in Philippians, this love grows and overflows splashing out first on other believers and then on non-believers. This is then ‘faith in action.’
So the Christian faith is not about “works” but about love and life. How we view life and how we live life. We must view it as a gift from the Giver of Life and then “live life lovingly.” This, of course, cannot be accomplished outside of relationships – our personal relationship with Jesus and then our relationships with others – Christian and non-Christian. The Christian faith is a daily, ever-deepening, dynamic, unique, personal love relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent. This is empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit and lived out in long-term committed relationships with others in a family called the local church. It is here that our ‘works’ (of love) are seen. It is from here that our ‘works’ (of love) touch others who have yet to join the family of God.
The Christian faith and resulting life-style is not about us but about Him who is love. It is not about what we can get by applying our faith but about what we can give because of His love. It is not about having to do things (works) but wanting and getting to do things so others can come to know and experience the fellowship we have with the Lord. Faith is about life – eternal life as found only in Jesus!