My great grandfather keeps to himself. He never says anything about politics, sports or religion. He’s a quiet man.
That’s because he died a long time ago.
Your faith works the same way. If you can keep your faith to yourself that’s usually a good indicator that your faith is dead. Now that doesn’t mean that if your faith is real you’ll be standing out at some intersection tomorrow morning holding a sign reminding us all that we’re going to hell. It does mean that genuine faith in Jesus Christ cannot at the same time be a private faith. Genuine saving faith always produces action.
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:17 (ESV)
Last week the Internet got pretty peeved at Mark Richt, the former head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. In his last meeting with his players he told them, “Life is about people, not rings. Rings collect dust.” One of the players tweeted out that quote and scores of college football fans whose emotional well being is directly linked to the Georgia Bulldogs hit the roof.
“That kind of talk might work for a pastor but this is football,” seemed to be the most common response. The idea there is that faith is fine on Sundays but not on Saturdays. Faith, many would tell us, cannot thrive in the real world where if you want to succeed, you do so at all costs. Just win, baby!
This sort of phony faith is great for making you feel better about yourself. It’s great for tricking you into believing that you won’t go to hell when you die. But it’s terrible at actually saving you.
Faith, if it is genuine, is not some buzz word we use to help us to get elected to a public office. It is not something that can be turned on and off as we desire. It is not merely the belief that whatever it is that you want is your God-appointed destiny.
Faith is trust. It is trust that Jesus is Lord and that he is enough to make you right with God. And faith doesn’t take up residence in some closet in your heart only to be brought out on Sunday mornings. If your faith can frequently be put to the side when it gets in the way of the really important things that you have to do, one of two things is just as dead as my great grandfather.
Your faith or the object of your faith.
The object of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ, is alive. And if you are really following him, your faith will be too.
So what about your faith?
Is it alive?
Or is it just collecting dust?
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:26 (ESV)