We learn in different ways and means: listening, seeing, and experiencing, and it comes as not surprise that experience is the best teacher. When it comes to our relationships with God, are we observers or participants? True faithfulness is only achievable through experience.
Observers of Faith
King Agrippa: Acts 26:24-29. Paul challenges King Agrippa to act on his knowledge and convert to Christianity. Agrippa recognizes Paul’s commitment to Christ, and he acknowledges that Paul’s example is convincing, but he is unwilling to take the step toward faithfulness. We can sit in services and recognize Christ’s sacrifice, but sitting there does not make us faithful Christians. Active obedience is necessary.
Passersby & a Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37. A priest and a Levite obviously notice the beaten man, and, in their own ways, they acknowledge his existence. They leave the work for someone else to do. Only one of the three did what was pleasing to the Lord. Acknowledging there is work to be done and actually doing it are two different things.
John Mark: Acts 12-13. The idea of the missionary journey seems to have appealed to Mark, but the experiences drive him away. We don’t know the whole story, but we do know that Paul feels strongly about this abandonment later. Mark liked the idea, but he did not like the work.
Ananias & Sapphira: Acts 5:1-10. These two like they idea of true devotion, but they do not want to make the sacrifice involved. Rather, they lie about how much they have given, and they desire the appearance of sacrifice, and we know how this turns out. God can see through our intentions, and he knows if we are merely “playing church.”
True Christianity & Experience
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says that anyone who wishes to follow Him must deny self and come to Jesus. We have to put our idea of self away and give up our former identity of sin. Back in Luke 10:36, Jesus asks the lawyer who the true neighbor in the parable is. It is the one who shows mercy “You go and do likewise.” Finally, in John 13:34, we are commanded that we demonstrate love the same way Christ demonstrates His love for us.
We cannot seek God, show mercy, or demonstrate Christian love if we merely sit on the sidelines. It takes effort to do these things, and simply acknowledging the need is not enough. The scriptures are full of active phrases: “…keep My commandments;” “Go and make disciples…;” “Seek and save…”
I may associate with active Christians. I may observe my brothers and sisters doing the right things, but, to be pleasing to God, I must also be personally involved in the mission and work Christ has given us. II Timothy 2:15 tells us to give diligence in our knowledge of God’s word. II Peter 1:5-10, this idea of diligence is visited twice, and we are discouraged from growing idle. Again, in Hebrews 4:11, the author speaks of diligence. A rest is promised, and the Hebrew writer encourages us to put effort into obtaining that rest.
God’s word is living and active, and we should be active as followers of that word.
lesson by Tim Smelser