Faith That Works
Some people think that faith is a personal fantasy to make the believer feel better. In the minds of many, all faiths are equal in providing personal well-being and community purpose. Although those who trust in Jesus receive His peace and joy, and they are certainly part of a community with an internal and external purpose - faith in the Lord Jesus is a life-changing adventure which affects every part of who we are until we see the Lord Jesus in Glory (1 Corinthians 15:19). And by God's grace, the way we relate to Jesus affects the lives of those around us (Matthew 5:16).
Paul the Apostle was giving thanks to God for a church he had never visited. He did not personally know most of the believers there. Why was he so warmly enthusiastic about them? Reports had reached Paul, when he was imprisoned in Rome, that their faith was alive and publicly evident in Colossae. True Christian faith is not just a private matter; it affects the way people live. Paul had heard that the believers in Colossae loved each other (Colossians 1:7-8). Despite their different religious backgrounds (Jewish and pagan), different cultural roots (Hebrew, Greek and Roman), different social status (slaves and freemen), different educational opportunities, genders and ages, their faith had resulted in genuine mutual love. That was a Christ-like miracle (Galatians 3:28)!
Their love and faith had a common destiny (the Bible uses the word ‘hope’ to describe the anticipation of meeting Jesus) because they had a common origin (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Their practice of loving, respecting and serving each other came from understanding that by trusting in Jesus, they were part of God's eternal kingdom. Their lifestyle bore Godly hallmarks. It did not matter where they had come from: what counted was where they were going to. They all knew they would be equally accepted in heaven through faith in God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). That truth was embedded in the gospel of Jesus they had believed. It made sense to them to love the others in the church, not only because of a brotherly bond to encourage each other each day, but also because they would share heaven one day (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
The church is not a consumer organisation where we get what we demand or pay for! It is a serving family where the hope of heaven stirs us to love each other until we are received into Glory. That sort of behaviour validates our faith and demonstrates it to others (John 13:34-35). Although the pressure of the modern workplace places more emphasis on results than relationships, Christians in the workplace need to understand that they belong to each other there, just as they do in the church. Christian fellowship matters: it is intended to be a taste of heaven. So, we also need to be careful that our work does not eclipse our family responsibility to meet with others in Christ’s family (Hebrews 10:25). How we treat other believers in church will set the pattern for the way we treat other Christians at work. And wherever our faith works together with others in love, we will validate the unique nature of the gospel.
© Dr Paul Adams