A healthy faith is one that exercises through love, service, and obedience

Published 8:50 am Friday, July 12, 2019

I scoffed at my friends who warned me of the infamous “freshmen fifteen” that awaits every college freshman. I refused to gain unwanted weight in my college years. Nevertheless, they told me of the horror stories how their chiseled bodies had been conquered by late night Cookout runs and the McDonald’s dollar menu. Once on campus, I quickly realized just how true these prophecies were. After my first midnight “snack,” I was hooked. For whatever reason, food tasted so much better after 12 a.m. While we only went once or twice a week at the beginning, papers and tests pushed us into three and four times a week. It became clear after a few weeks that the “freshmen fifteen” would soon get me too. However, I had developed a master plan to avoid the “dad bod.”
Through hours of research, I came across these weight loss supplements called thermogenic fat burners, also known as diet pills. Taking two of these pills a day was going to help me not only keep fat away but also burn some of the fat I did have. What a beautiful plan. I didn’t have to do any work except for taking two pills a day and I would get the body I had always dreamed of…Thanks to this plan, the “freshmen fifteen” turned into a whopping “freshmen forty.” I certainly was naïve for thinking that I could somehow lose weight without changing my habits, but hindsight has shown me that, generally speaking, we all like to see results without any work. I wanted a chiseled body but didn’t want to run and workout. We idolize the results we want, but we aren’t willing to appreciate the process involved in attaining those results.
I find it ironic that the same instant gratification we seek in life has corrupted our understanding of the blood of Jesus. We have been treating the blood of Jesus like some sort of diet pill. We tell people that all they have to do is come to church with us, walk to the altar/baptistry, say a prayer after us, and then, boom, results. I am certainly not arguing for a salvation that is based on our works, but we should note that our works are to be transformed by the work of God in our lives. Ephesians 2:8-10 reads, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” In other words, we are not saved by our good works, but we are saved FOR our good works. God saves us that we may experience salvation here and now. How can we claim to be the “saved” people of God but refuse to walk in the saving ways of Jesus?
It is precisely this refusal to live differently that cheapens the blood of Jesus. If we expect the blood of Jesus to simply be some magic potion we take after repeating a prayer after a preacher, we have missed the point of Christ’s death entirely. The significance of Christ’s blood is not that it magically makes us saved people, but rather, the blood of Christ shows us how to live as saved people. Furthermore, in living like saved people, as the people of God, we come to experience the salvation and wholeness that God has always desired for us.
1 Peter 1:15-19 says, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (conduct); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”
Peter reminds us that we are redeemed through the “precious blood of Christ” which is without spot or blemish. It should terrify us that the Son of God, the perfect lamb, came into the world with a heart full of compassion and our institutions and haughty religion crucified him. Certainly, the blood of Jesus can and does carry spiritual significance, but this spiritual understanding of the blood is powerless unless we see that it must challenge and confront our politics, economics, and social norms.
Just as Abel’s blood cried out against Cain, the blood of Jesus cries out against our ways of living. The blood of Jesus is proof that our politics, economics, and lifestyles are bound and determined to kill that which is God in the world, particularly Jesus Himself. However, there is good news. The good news is that God became flesh to show us how to live into our salvation and wholeness. So…it is time we quit expecting our Jesus pills to “save” us and start exercising our faith in Christ through service, love, and obedience.
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and Hunter Greene.)

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