I had a conversation with someone today who was excited because a relative who had grown up in a strongly agnostic household had had a ‘Christian’ wedding rather than having it officiated by a celebrant. He’s marrying a girl from a Catholic family so they had a Catholic service. She was hugely encouraged by this. It seemed like quite a step and quite a stand against his family. Another family member commented that now he can pass on the faith to his children – God has left a remnant.
So, maybe I’m a pessimist but I wanted more details before I was willing to get that excited. When I asked if the couple were living together before their marriage, she admitted that they had been and then immediately followed this up by telling me not to judge them since I don’t know what’s in their heart.
Which is true – only God knows our hearts. But the Bible also tells us that where our treasure is, our heart will be also. What we value in life is indicative of what’s in our hearts. I suspect that we too quickly overlook the connection between faith and deeds. I often hear that someone ‘believes in their heart’ but that their life doesn’t reflect it. But this is a distinction the Bible never makes. Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you a dead faith! The point is not to have a perfect life, but for there to be evidence of growing in Christlikeness. And this evidence is to be concrete: Christians are identifiable by their lives, not just by their hearts.
Now, there may be a glimmer of trust in Jesus in this relative’s heart. But this is reason to exhort him to a holy life, not reason to relax! Christians are called not just to have faith but to work it out with fear and trembling. And asking about a person’s life is not a judgemental thing to do, it’s the means of spurring one another on!
So I’ll continue to ask questions like that, not so I can sit in judgement, but because I’m not content to just get people over the line. A person’s life is a good indicator of where they’re at with God and each of us, Christian or not, need to be exhorted to repent of our evil ways and live with Jesus as our king.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.