Carrying around titles based off of mental decisions do not automatically make us good examples of that title. In fact, without action we may very well ruin that title for others.
Here’s an example from my own life: I used to carry the title of “child sponsor.” A pastor spoke at one of my college chapel services and then tagged a sponsor-a-child pitch onto the end of it and I felt convicted (or guilt-tripped—I’m not entirely sure) and decided to make the commitment. And so, as a poor college student, I picked up the first monthly bill of my life and committed to sponsor a child overseas. I then carried the title of “child sponsor” for years until the child no longer needed it, but I never acted like one. I just paid the monthly bills without ever really interacting with the child I was sponsoring.
A real child sponsor would have paid the upgraded price when the economy dropped, but I didn’t. A real child sponsor would send Christmas and birthday presents, but I didn’t. A real child sponsor would write back and forth regularly, but I didn’t. And so there I was, a complete poser. I carried the title of “child sponsor” while I was not much of a child sponsor at all.
Truth be told, this ministry might have done better without me. They cut me deep enough to get my wallet, but not deep enough to get to my heart. The kid I sponsored would have done better to have a different person invest in him. As a representative of the organization I gave to, I made them look bad.
And that’s what often happens when we water evangelism and discipleship down into a way of thinking. We become little more than salesmen moving door to door. Once a house has accepted our message, we move on and leave them on their own to figure out the rest of Christianity for themselves.
With all of our conferences and church services operating out of this sales pitch mindset over the last generation, the millions of people who were saved through our methods should have gone out and changed America by now, right? Okay, then why is the church in America starting to die before those millions have?
We need the fruit of the Spirit. We need to be like Jesus. Christianity cannot simply be an attempt to think our way to Heaven. After all, Jesus didn’t come just to teach us a new way to think. He didn’t walk up to Peter and Andrew and say, “Hey guys, you believe I’m the Messiah?”
“Uh, yeah, sure.”
“Cool, you’re in. See you later.”
No! He expected Peter and Andrew to follow, be discipled, grow his fruit, and teach others to grow that fruit as well!
Yes, belief is a monumental part of Christianity as we can’t save ourselves. Only our faith in Jesus can save us. But he still expects something out of us! We are supposed to represent him. And if we’re going to represent him well, then our works are going to matter to our faith.