Somewhere, somehow, someone distorted what it means to follow Jesus. Today I was reading I Peter 1:13, "Prepare your minds for action," and I was struck by how little that verse reflects most of the Christianity I see today.
According to Peter, the expected "posture" of following Jesus is one of action. It is to be an active way of life, that has noticeable, observable affects on our relationships, our budgets, our conversations, our use of time, where we invest our lives. But somewhere along the way, following Jesus has taken a passive posture in our lives and is certainly seen as a passive religion in the eyes of the world. Following Jesus isn't synonymous with action, but with going to meetings, reading and reflecting, listening to someone else talk, praying quietly to yourself, and singing songs to the back of someone's head. Of course, all of these things can be important part of our faith. And the reading and reflection on Scripture and prayer are essential disciplines. But their purpose should be to draw us to God who can then propel us into action. They are not to be walls that we can hide behind so that we don't have to take action or engage the world. The ending question of any time of reading, reflection, prayer, or worship should always be: "Thank you, Father. What do I do now?"
Real faith that God's Word is true and that Jesus is who he claimed to be should always propel us to action. A lack of action reveals a great deal about our faith.
When we start to live out our faith with an active posture, then preparing our minds for action because more essential. As an athlete prepares his mind for competition or a soldier prepares his mind for battle, we prepare our mind for active obedience to God and for the steps of faith that will require. If my conviction is that I am going to act on my faith today, then I will be more motivated to prepare myself for the challenges that will bring.
One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is about Elaine's reaction when she finds out that her boyfriend believes she is going to hell, doesn't seem to care and doesn't take any action.
Contrast that with this clip that has been circulating around. In it Penn Jillett, a professed atheist, talks about his reaction when a Christian gives him a Gideon's Bible after one of his shows.
The take-away: Even a non-Christian world will look with respect at a faith that results in compassionate, sincere action.