only help my unbelief


A dangerous dichotomy
June 19, 2008, 9:00 am
Filed under: Posts

Note: I wrote this back in January and never posted it. I’ve got a lot of errands to run today, so I thought I’d share this with you in case I don’t get a chance to post.

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As I mentioned a few days ago, my pastor just started preaching through the book of Colossians. In order to soften my heart and prepare myself for the teaching every Lord’s Day, I’ve been reading through Colossians every morning. Doing that has made me realize the trap so many Christians fall into when they attempt to separate their faith from their actual life.

It’s a dangerous dichotomy. When our life is void of the fruit of our salvation, we risk being a hypocrite or, at the very least, having no impact on the world around us in the name of Christ. And when our faith isn’t practiced in our lives, we grow at a painful pace, if at all, because we don’t get the opportunity to do what the Bible tells us to do.

I can’t say which one is more dangerous; I think they are equally disheartening.

I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions this year, but I did make some goals. One is physical – train and run so that I can successfully complete the Cooper River Bridge Run in April. One is career-oriented, and pretty simple – find a job. But the spiritual ones are the ones I’m trying to focus on the most. One of my goals is to memorize more Scripture this year. Another is to spend less time trying to read the Bible in terms of quantity, and more time reading it qualitatively (which is why I’m reading through Colossians every morning). But above all those is my goal to bridge this dichotomy I’ve mentioned, so there isn’t a separate between my spiritual life and my secular life.

And it’s more than just picking three people I know who aren’t saved and trying to talk to them about Jesus this week. Those kinds of goals are rarely met and leave us feeling discouraged.

Instead, I am trying to find more ways to be a Christian and be myself, without having to move into an evangelistic version of myself whenever Jesus comes up. I want my speech to be gospel-centered, I want my actions to be Christ-exalting, and I don’t want anyone to look at me and see the dreadful effects of sin on my life. Instead, I want everyone who looks at me to see Jesus and the way He has redeemed me.

It’s a hard line to toe, though. Coming to school every day automatically puts me in the middle of thousands of people who don’t know the Lord, and almost as many who don’t believe in any kind of God at all. One of the issues with going to a public university like mine and majoring in journalism is that I’m not able to rest in the comfort of the Southern conservative Bible belt. Most of the other people I’m working with this semester are from out of state, and most are from up north somewhere. Added to that is the fact that journalism is an incredibly liberal field. It’s so easy to give in to the temptation to talk like everyone else, to laugh at the same jokes as everyone else.

But God calls me to a higher standard: “Set your mind on the things above, and not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). And yet, this doesn’t call us to live in some ethereal state, out of touch with the world around us. No, it means being engaged in the culture and concerned for the souls of others, all the while remembering that our eternity is in heaven, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

And so I want to move out of this dangerous dichotomy that tells me that it’s OK to have two separate lives. I never want the world to impact my faith, but my faith can and should impact the world around me in practical ways, by the grace of God and through the work of the Holy Spirit.

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