I adore the desert. My wife and I lived for a handful of years in Arizona and how I long for the day when I may visit there again. When the desert is mentioned, I wonder what image appears in your mind. Perhaps a saguaro or prickly pear cactus is projected on the screen of your mind. Is it maybe an image of the Grand Canyon or a howling coyote? Surely there is no more romantic or more famous piece of desert lore than that of the mirage.
I have never seen a mirage in the desert, though I have trekked many miles through its dusty trails. Though, I have seen personally an image which appeared to exist but did not. This is something that we have all seen – faith’s mirage. That is the man or woman so deceived by their personal outward expression of righteousness – a vain image of godliness with no substance – that they failed to see the inadequacy of its content. Friend, how many tired, weary souls, wondering in the desert, parched by the scorching heat of the all to common sorrows of this life, have run toward the appearance of godliness that we project, only to drink of its waters and find their mouths full of sand?
What is the substance of our faith? How is genuine faith measured or defined? How do we know that we are followers of Jesus? The Bible’s answer to this question is not illusive. “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:17-18 ESV) The true measure of our love for God, therefore, is our love for others. I know to pick an apple from an apple tree because of the fruit it bears. I know the love of Christ within a Christian because that Christian bears loving fruit.
My friend, right belief is important. In a world full of lies who can deny the value of truth! Here is the truth. God has not called us only to right belief, that is, to receive Christ in certainty, accurately articulating our biblical faith, proper creedal formulations, or exacting theology. Right belief is fully defined by the right action it produces. In James 1:22 we are told, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (ESV) Fellow Pilgrim, are we deceiving ourselves? Is the visible expression of my faith little more than a mirage? I would suggest that when we put on outward appearances of piety, apart from outward expressions of genuine, radical, Christ-like love, we not only deceive ourselves, we deceive the world around us as well.
It takes courage to live this way. It takes strength to look beyond the blame to the need. It takes audacity to see only the need and trust God with the rest! It takes humility to love others the way that Jesus has loved and continually loves us. My eyes have grown weary of optical illusions. O, how I long to taste and see obvious, audacious, palpable Christian love in those who profess Christ! My friend, won’t you join me in forgoing outward illusionary religiosity, pretentious piety, in favor of radical Christ-likeness? The world does not need more illusions, but how in need it is of a few more audacious followers of Jesus Christ!
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This is a timely and much needed article, we must be do'ers of the word and not hearers only...I don't want to only see...I have a desire to do...as folowers of the Lord Jesus Christ we must stand...it's time for us to speak in one voice...your article will change lives!