Monday, September 12, 2011

Belief is More Important Than Works

At least when it comes to nutrition.

Most of us are aware of at least a few people who have little interest in diet or exercise yet manage to live long, healthy lives. I remember asking a youthful 94 year old her secret and she replied, "a cigarette after dinner and some whiskey before bed." I laughed; she was serious!

It sounds fanciful, but this sweet lady may have been sharing some profound wisdom.

For starters, it appears that our beliefs about the food we eat have a greater impact on our health than the actual composition of the food. This really isn't surprising when you consider all the conflicting evidence research provides for healthy eating. What is found to be beneficial in one study becomes detrimental in the next. Furthermore, cultures around the globe thrive while eating highly diverse diets; many of which would be considered controversial if not foolhardy.

What does this have to do with Christianity? Maybe nothing. But, well, I'm wondering if perhaps the same principle can be applied to our spiritual well-being. A few verses in particular recently got me thinking:

"Someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required." (Luke 12:47-48)

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned." (Luke 6:37)

Does the expression 'ignorance is bliss' come to mind?

And if I'm interpreting these verses correctly then perhaps faith really does trump good works. I mean, if I truly believe I am saved by grace regardless of my actions then perhaps God's mercy really does cover me.

If I have not condemned myself or I don't know any better...

Would this make God the greatest relativist ever? I mean, not only does He judge our sin but He considers our perceptions and attitudes toward them as well.

Hmmm. Could this cover non-believers too?

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

It sounds to me like Jesus thought it was at least worth asking...