Just Whisper the Secret Prayer and You’re Good
Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:20
I attend an evangelical church, which places a high emphasis on the act of sharing our faith. In such an environment, it’s not uncommon at the end of a service for everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes while the pastor recites the sinner’s prayer, leading anyone who wants, to quietly become a Christian. We’re saved, not by what we do, but by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). All we must do to be saved from the fires of hell then, is to whisper those secret words, and we’re good. It’s easy to become a Christian.
This may not be exactly what I’ve been taught, but this is the faith that I once embraced. I found it quite convenient that I could just simply think a thought in my head, ask forgiveness, and then live however I wanted. God, you have to forgive me tomorrow, so today, I can do what I want.
This is nothing like the faith that Jesus and the disciples modeled in today’s passage. In the story, as Jesus began his ministry, he came across two fishermen and asked them to follow him. They didn’t simply whisper some quiet words, proclaiming belief in Christ, while continuing to fish. They dropped what they were doing, left their old lives behind, and followed him in radical obedience. Becoming disciples of Christ meant that their lives changed forever.
This stands in sharp contrast to my previous faith, in which I changed nothing. I pursued me to misery and then had the audacity to wonder how I got there. I got there precisely because I refused to change. I refused to abandon my path and I refused to follow Christ.
It would, of course, be an error in the opposite direction to demand that we earn salvation, becoming perfect before coming to faith. When, however, we use grace as an excuse to continue in our disobedience, we are doing faith wrong.
If we truly desire to be disciples of Christ, then our faith must impact how we live. Becoming a Christian isn’t simply whispering a quiet prayer once and then continuing on our way. Like those fishermen, following Christ means we must daily abandon the old way of life, following him in radical obedience.