Transforming Faith
John Telgren

It might be tempting to think that poor, uneducated folks who accept Christ without careful proof and investigation are somehow inferior. However, that is not what Christ said. Remember what he told Thomas? Thomas wanted proof that Jesus was alive, and Jesus gave it to him by letting Thomas see him in person and touch the scars from his crucifixion. Then Jesus said, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed (John 20:29)." No struggle with doubt. No fear from challenges to faith. No obsession with having to "prove" it beyond a doubt. In fact, if it is necessary for one to prove it beyond a doubt, that person cannot truly come to faith in Christ. Indeed, how blessed is those who do not see and believe.

Simply trusting faith: that is all that Christ desires. Yet challenges to faith have come from day one. I think of church leaders from the 2nd century who defended the faith from an intellectual standpoint and yet convinced very few of the pagan elite. Why? They were likely skeptics and chose not to believe in spite of the evidence. Faith boils down to a decision, not removing all doubt. Otherwise, faith wouldn't be faith. I am struck by how the Apostles defended the faith. They were not as sophisticated as some of the 2nd century apologists. It appears that if their "defense" helped to bring someone to Christ, it was more the exception than the rule. Christians in both the first and second century were generally not the elite philosophers, but the common person. The message of the Gospel provided real hope. It wasn't merely an intellectual exercise. The Gospel transformed their lives. Through the Gospel, they became part of a wonderful Christian family. They were forgiven of sins and looked forward to the return of Christ to take them to their real home. This was not academic. The real "defense" was the works of the early Christians themselves. Following the lead of Christ, the "blind" were seeing, people were being "cleansed," and the poor were hearing the Gospel of hope. Who was telling the Gospel? Ordinary Christians.

Christianity is not a mere intellectual exercise. It is not be a classroom endeavor where we merely learn some facts and can rehearse them. It is looking beyond the book to the one who the book points to. Christianity is about knowing God intimately in such a way that he transforms how we think and we live. If we take this transformation seriously, then we can truly be the light of the world and not just the light of the church on Sunday. Our holiness and our distinctiveness does not come from being unlike some other church or a denomination, but by not being squeezed into the world's mold. It comes by being transformed into the image of Christ inwardly. That inward transformation is what enables us to be the salt of the earth.

Read Romans 12:1-2 every day this week. Get out a journal and reflect on what this should look like and feel like in your inner self. What will it take for this inner transformation to take place?