By Tim Stevens
How do I as a Christian, “express my faith” in God? In other words, how do I show those around me my belief and trust in him? This question may be considered broad in nature, because it is a question that can be given several correct answers. The Bible has so much to say on the subject of faith.
One way that a Christian “expresses his faith” is through complete obedience to God’s word. That is the requirement in our becoming a Christian in the first place full and complete obedience to God’s plan of salvation through hearing the word of God, believing that Jesus died for our sins, confessing the name of Jesus, repenting of a sinful life and being baptized into Christ in order that those sins be removed, and that we can then come into the greatest relationship ever experienced as a child of the heavenly Father in his kingdom, the church of Christ, his dear Son. This is “expressing your faith!”
Also, the Christian who continues to be obedient to God’s word, will “express his faith” by properly conducting his life in this world. For example, he will watch what he says, what he does, what he wears, and where he goes, knowing and realizing the importance of their influence upon the lives of others. Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16). The Lord is saying that true believers are those who are “salt and light” in the world. Just as salt preserves from corruption, disciples of Christ are to do what they can in preserving the world from corruption. And, just as light directs and guides man-kind in the darkness of night, followers of the true Light (Christ) must shine with reflected light in a world darkened with sin and rebellion toward God. If we give forth light it will honor God.
Christians can make a difference and an impact up on those in the world by the way in which they truly “express their faith” or “act” in this world. Most of us have heard the following statement and would agree, “I had rather see a sermon than hear one any day!” The inspired writer wrote to the Christians in Rome, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1, 2).
Many in the religious world, including some Christians, may be misinterpreting the earlier passage regarding the person who is to let his light shine in order that others may see his good works. It appears that some have the idea or understanding that they must put on some sort of display or do something outwardly (materially speaking) in order that others get the impression that they are religious and devoted to Christ. Such action can come across boastful and possibly hypocritically.
For example, for years we have observed people in the world wearing jewelry (necklaces and earrings) with the “crucifix” on them. A “crucifix” is a cross bearing the likeness or representation of Christ crucified. What is the reason for such outward display? Many wear such ornaments/emblems/symbols for a number of reasons: (1) It’s the stylish thing to do, (2) To give off the appearance of being religious, (3) An attempt (a sincere one to some) to show others that they believe in Christ and him crucified, (4) To show one’s faith better known today as, “ex-pressing your faith.”
Jesus reacted sternly toward the scribes and the Pharisees for their pompous behavior in Matthew 23 “But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments” (v. 5). He could see their boastful and hypocritical ways. But they could have responded to Jesus, as so many do today, “We’re just expressing our faith!”
“Expressing one’s faith” has become a very popular phrase in today’s religious world. In one of the religious catalogs received recently, there were a number of products advertised for “expressing your faith!” For example, there were silk ties available featuring attractive, eye catching patterns with various themes: “I Am Not Ashamed” “It Is Finished” “This World Is Not My Home” “Fruit Of The Spirit” “Watch and Pray” “Whole In One.” This particular advertisement went on to say, this unique neckwear gives you an original way to adverTlES your faith.” Also stated on the same page was, “PrioriTIES your faith! Each of these finely crafted 100% silk ties offers you an elegant way to make more than just a fashion statement.”
Also available from the same catalog was “Christian Expression wear” which lets you “express your statement of faith” on an exciting collection of top-of-the-line T-Shirts, sweatshirts, and ball caps. These too, as stated in the catalog, are “an eye-catching way to bear witness of the Light.” For example: “Gone to See Dad” T-Shirt. (“Gone to see Dad. We’re fixin’ a place for you. Be back soon to pick you up. Jesus”) “Lord’s Gym” T-shirt (“Lord’s Gym. Bench press this! His pain you gain.”) Sweatshirts for Grandparents (“I’m a faith walkin’, God fearin’, Grandchild lovin’ Grandma for Christ”).
There’s no doubt in the fact that these expressions are eye-catching, clever and thought provoking! So are some of the T-shirt messages given off from beer companies. But, are these items of outward display really appropriate and necessary in one’s “expressions of his faith”? It would be very easy to answer “Yes!” to that question in an effort to justify such items, especially when compared to the T-shirts and ball caps advertising beer and cigarettes and those which are vulgar with profanity inscribed all over them. But, is this the way that a person is to express his or her faith? Is this the way that a Christian expresses his love and faith in Jesus Christ? When we read of all the faithful men and women of the Bible, can we actually picture them (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Paul, etc.) “expressing their faith” in the same manner in which so many people do in the world today? It would not have been necessary for the apostle Peter, or one of the other apostles, to wear one of the T-shirts available from the catalog. The front of the T-shirt reads: “Offshore Shops.” The back side reads: “Supplying Fishers of Men. Simon Peter’s Offshore Shops. You catch’em, He’ll clean’em!” The apostle Peter wrote near the end of his life regarding fruitful growth in the faith, … add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self- control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has for-gotten that he was purged from his old sins. Therefore,brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:5-11).
Can a person express his or her faith without such out-ward display and demonstration as already mentioned in this article? Of course they can! Faithful men and women of the Bible did and they did it from within. “Expressing your faith” begins from the heart! David told Solomon, “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever” (1 Chron. 28:9).
Jesus walked humbly on this earth and there was nothing “showy” in his appearance. The apostles followed and were just as common as could be. As for the early Christians same way! Should we be any different? I believe not!
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 16, p. 20-21
August 15, 1996