When it comes to religion, many of us tend to focus on the centrality of our beliefs. Along with that, it is not uncommon for us to use our beliefs to determine whom we will and will not associate with. We tend to feel more at home with people who share our political views for instance and to distance ourselves from or to be suspect of those who have differing political views.
This tends to be true of our religious beliefs as well. Many of us look for a faith community that shares our particular beliefs and historically this has been linked very closely to denominational affiliation. And certainly, what we believe about who God is and who we are in relation to God is tremendously important. Yet, how often have we settled for right belief as if that is the end goal in and of itself? How often have we been content to surround ourselves with people who believe the same as we do and to focus our energies on reinforcing our shared beliefs as if that was the sole purpose of having faith?
Our beliefs are important. I John 3:23 tells us, “He has commanded us to believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ…” But our beliefs are not the same as our faith. To have faith is to put our beliefs into action. The second part of I John 3:23 says, “… and to love one another as he has commanded us.” Love is a verb. Love takes action. And while what we believe matters, what we do with our beliefs also matters. As Hebrews 11 suggests, putting our belief into action is faith.
It was by faith that Abel brought a better sacrifice. It was by faith that Noah built the ark. It was by faith that Abraham went to a new land. It was by faith that Moses left Egypt. In each of these cases, their belief in God led them to a response, led them to action. Faith is belief in action.
Living out our faith is something that we as individuals can and should be doing on a daily basis wherever we are. But it is also something that can be strengthened and multiplied in the presence of community. When we come together in our faith, what we can do together is much larger than most of us can do on our own. When we come together in our faith, we can be encouraged and empowered to be intentional about living out our beliefs in action. And when we come together in our faith, we have the benefit of a variety of gifts that will allow us to be a part of living out our faith in ways that we could not do on our own. No one of us is capable or gifted to do everything.
To be people of faith is to be believers in action. This is a matter of prayer. It is a matter of intentionality. And it is a matter of community. Find a community of believes (like these) who will empower you to put your belief into action, to live out your faith. Faith is belief in action.