Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Believing a Thing Rightly

You do not believe a thing rightly until you act in accordance with it.  (A. W. Tozer)
That was the statement that greeted me Monday morning via Twitter. One of the Twitter feeds I follow posts a daily quote from 20th century theologian A. W. Tozer.

I think we all have difficulty with believing things rightly, and it shows up in our actions … at least it does in mine. For instance: how many of us “believe” the statistical reports that state that texting while driving is 26 times more likely to cause a serious accident than is driving drunk … 26 TIMES more likely … yet still fudge on that for “just a quick yes or no response” to a question we just received on our phones if the traffic doesn’t seem too heavy? And we would all agree that having a serious accident is something that we would very much like to avoid. Acting in accordance with that belief, then, would mean that we would never even try to read a text while driving.

Another example: in high school and college I spent a good deal of time working in a hospital. It always amazed me to see the respiratory therapists light up cigarettes on their lunch break. Many of them spent the morning doing treatments on people whose lungs were horribly diseased and damaged due to years and years of smoking. I’ve seen what gets coughed up during those treatments and it’s nasty. Then they go to lunch and light up?

Do I “believe” that it is important to put away my shoes? I answer “yes” but if you went to my house right now you would probably find 3 pairs of my shoes that are not in my closet. Do I “believe” that it is important for my dresser top to be neat and tidy? I answer “yes,” but the condition of my side of the dresser would tell you otherwise. You get the idea. We are great “hearers of the Word,” but our doing is sorely lacking.

I had a teaching DVD running in the background last week while trying desperately to get some things organized. My desk is still in disarray (another point of dissonance between belief and behavior). Reggie Joiner was interviewing Mark Batterson and asked about how we increase our education about a certain matter in church life. Batterson responded that what we needed was not more education, but more application. “We in the church are already educated far beyond our level of obedience.”

That’s why I resonate so with the words of the Choristers’ Prayer. It’s not enough to sing the words. We must believe them. And the true test of belief is not verbal assent, but behavior. God help us all.

That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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