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Are you Serious?

February 16, 2016

He was driving the company’s car that afternoon and we were heading back home. The heat scorched the countryside and everyone in the car was drowsing for the hour long drive ahead of us. We were all sorely tired after a grueling day and each was plunged in his own mind; I was surrendering to the soothing effect of the smooth jazz playing in the car. We were too comfortable and we knew that there’s a cold shower and a copious meal awaiting each one of us.

It wasn’t really something we haven’t seen before because we’ve been driving along that road for months now. It’s just that we, after a whole day spent with them, get to go back to our comfortable lives and so we start feeling the weight they have to carry for their entire lives.

“They really do live in unbearable poverty, don’t they?” he asked me—it really wasn’t a question, he just wanted me to agree with him. Looking over the window, I couldn’t agree more, but again it’s normal in that remote area. I saw, sitting down in front of a small hut, a mother holding a baby obviously tormented by hunger. The mother couldn’t afford these things we take for granted—clothes, food, a roof… How they could live without the minimum accommodation in this unbearable heat was beyond us.

However, we knew the guy for loving money more than the average person; he passionately talked about it. He was also a born again Christian, so he said—although it was hard for us to believe him for he gave no sign of ‘piety’ whatsoever. With that in mind, I answered his question: “Were you given a choice, would you rather have been born this poor knowing God or be incredibly rich (like our boss) but standing no chance of being exposed to the gospel?”

He hesitated. He was honest enough to tell me the question wasn’t that simple to answer. He was more inclined to the option of getting rich to which I quickly retorted: “If you’d rather have riches than God, then you must really not believe in hell…”

He thought I was not being realistic and I thought he wasn’t really serious about his Christian beliefs and to him I came off really naïve, hard-nosed and eccentric. Suddenly, it seemed, the sight of extreme poverty was more repelling than hell and all the horror we associate to it; or could it be that he was blinded by his materialism? What I didn’t know is that I was trying to take the speck out of his eyes when there was a log in mine—we really are not that different.

This is a universal problem. There’s a wide range of things that we would personally affirm theoretically to be true but which we do not live out. We treat Christian truths the same way we treat mathematical theories—they’re known to be true but, when it comes to the real life, they’re irrelevant. No matter how much interest you might have in science, E=mc2 has no practical value personally; that is in the way I make everyday life decisions.

As most of the mathematical theories (I just remembered Pythagoras’s theorem) they’re stored somewhere in our brains, ready to be dug out only when it becomes the subject of a conversation—mostly as a cover to really show up how smart one is. Have you also noticed that they only speaks to the intellectual aspect of a human being?

Unfortunately this is how we treat Christian truths—located in a storage part of the brain for boring and irrelevant things. Something more alarming is that we do not even notice this and we walk around believing that we believe when in fact we don’t.

We say that we believe in God but do not really live as if we’re submitted to a higher authority; as if we will give an account to him. We say that we believe in the next life  when we really live as though this is all there is—we do not make decisions in light of eternity.  We say we want to go to heaven and spend eternity with God when we can’t even stand few minutes of Bible reading. We say (and sing) that we need God when we live and adopt an attitude suggesting that we don’t really need him and, worse, all that stuff about the blood and the cross of Christ are just dead thoughts for it has never influenced any decisions we ever made.

Are we—and by that I especially include myself—taking God seriously?

Paul writes that if resurrection wasn’t real—which is central to his theology—then we of all people are to be pitied (1cor15:14-19). For him everything he did and built crumbles, would resurrection be just a legend. But for the most of us, nothing would shake since Christ and his work has never been that foundational in our lives.

Friend, faith without works is dead. If there are no works accompanying your faith, it is time to take an honest look at your faith and test its authenticity.

“I believe; help my unbelief!”
Mark 9:24


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