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Foundations and Theory

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice there is.”

Jan L. A. Van De Snepscheut

It’s an interesting quote. I think what it means is that if we have a theory about how life should be lived, then the way we live it should be consistent with the theory. The problem is, however, that often the way we live our lives is different than what we say we believe: our theory.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder. (James 2:14-19)

The above scripture should challenge us to question the inconsistencies between our faith and the way we live our lives. I am, of course, writing to Christians. In theory we as Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and by believing that, we have a place with Him eternally. The problem is, that belief is incomplete a half a theory. Saying we believe or thinking we believe has no proof with it.

For any theory to become a fact requires evidence. As Christians we have two things to prove in relationship to what we claim to believe. If we expect those who do not believe in either God or Christ to change they need more than what we say we believe. Unfortunately, we take on labels (evangelical, conservative) that become connected with political movements and judgmental attitudes. We claim that God is love and then speak and act in unloving ways both in our churches and in the world. I personally have stopped using the words spiritual and religious because they confuse people. The term religious can refer to any belief system and may have nothing to do with Christ and our creator God. The term spiritual is even broader. There are many groups that claim to be spiritually based that have more to do with internal attitudes that reject the idea of a personal savior God. In many of those groups people see themselves as their own gods.

Back to the two things I mentioned that need proving. The first is, as the scripture suggests, that our life style becomes the proof that we truly believe what we theorize. Faith must act more than it talks. Daily we meet Christians that speak faith but do not live it. It may be that some people see us that way. Because of those demonstrations many people reject the reality of Christianity. The second thing that needs proving is the existence of a loving and sacrificing God. The history of the church from the middle-ages would suggest the existence of a very hateful, judgmental and vicious god.

By Pastor Robert Rathbun