In the political campaign just ended, faith was talked about more than in most campaigns in recent memory, at least out here in Colorado. We heard many candidates claim to have faith in God.
Interestingly, more than a few of them quickly went on to say something like this, “However, I try to keep my faith as a private matter between me and my God. I don’t let my faith affect the way I vote or make decisions in the political realm.”
That’s a fascinating kind of “faith;” a kind that, quite frankly, is completely unrecognizable when compared to what the Bible calls faith.
Such a so-called “faith” sees a person’s relationship to deity in completely private terms, making it a kind of hidden hopefulness that some god (who desires to play no active role in one’s day-to-day existence) will one day be nice to everyone and let us all go to heaven – or wherever.
The fact is, faith is not like that at all. If faith is real, it transforms you, and keeps on transforming you, making you little-by-little more like Jesus. That transformation is not isolated to the “religious” part of yourself, but extends to every aspect of your personhood: who you are, what you do, how you make decisions, and what you consider to be valuable.
Thus, if faith is real, it can’t be hidden, because it changes you. It can’t be privatized, because it makes you live differently. And it certainly can’t be relegated to the “religious sphere” of one’s life – whatever that is.
Inspired by God’s Spirit, James stated it this way: “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). That’s blunt enough, isn’t it?
Or, to put it another way: if your faith doesn’t produce changes in your life, it’s not faith at all. It’s just a corpse – it may look real, but there’s no life in it.
If faith is real, it always results in change, because when you place your faith in Jesus Christ, a new life begins. You become a whole new person on the inside. Suddenly, you are changed. Formerly just a child of your earthly parents, you become a child of your heavenly Father. And since you have become His child, the family resemblance begins to take over. As you live out your life of faith in an intimate love relationship with God, the things that matter most to Him also come to matter most to you. Your values become more in tune with His values. Your heart begins to break over the things that break the heart of God. And you begin to be committed to those ideals God is committed to.
And, none of that can be hidden. It shows. Always. I repeat: A-L-W-A-Y-S. Indeed, if nothing shows, if no change is visible, then there’s nothing there. No real faith at all.
So, next time you hear politicians -- or anyone else, for that matter! -- say they have a kind of so-called faith that doesn’t change the way they live and act and vote, ask yourself who they’re trying to fool.
One thing’s for sure. They’re not fooling God.