Every Sunday the family went to church, Sunday school and Bible study. They confessed their sins, recited the creeds, said the Lord’s Prayer and listened attentively to the sermon. After church, they piled into the car and drove home or to a local restaurant, where they talked about the mistakes in the bulletin, the terrible singing, the boring sermon and the sinful lives of all who had surrounded them in church. The rest of the week was spent making money, playing sports and video games and watching television. On Saturday, mom and dad went to a neighbor’s party and drank too much and talked about the other neighbors’ problems. The kids stayed home and watched a movie with foul language, nudity and violence. On Sunday morning, the family went to church, Sunday school and Bible study. They confessed their sins, recited the creeds…
Often, Christians and their congregations are called “hypocrites” by others who see them attend church, then check their faith at the door as they leave church on Sunday and spend the rest of the week living as if their faith means nothing. Hypocrite is an appropriate word to describe this phenomenon. The faith of a Christian and the life of a Christian cannot be separated.
It’s true that we are not saved by our good works, nor by living holy lives. God makes that quite clear: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Thank God that we don’t have to earn our salvation, or we would all be lost eternally! God’s grace, His undeserved love for us, is a gift beyond measure.
We don’t always talk about the next verse, though: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Does this mean we should be actively seeking good works to perform so that God will be pleased with us? No. It means our lives should be lived as Christians. It means we should treat our friends, family and neighbors with respect. When we see others sinning, we are to be reminded of our own sinfulness and how we are saved, and speaking the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15) tell them of their sin, so that they may end their sinful behavior, come to repentance and be saved. If you work for someone else, your faith will guide how you perform your tasks, how you treat other employees and your employer. If your boss tells you to do something wrong, you must refuse. If you own a business, your faith informs all your decisions. It guides your treatment of your employees and your dealings with other businesses and with the government. When your business is told do something God has condemned, you must not obey. We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
Christians don’t lead double lives. A Christian doesn’t check faith at the church door on Sunday. A Christian doesn’t compromise faith in order to get ahead in business. A Christian doesn’t compromise faith by order of an employer or by demand of government. Faith cannot be separated from a Christian. By grace we are saved through faith. As that faith grows and is strengthened, it informs, guides and leads us in every aspect of our lives.
-Rev. Paul Fries