Keep the Faith
. . . He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard . . . Colossians 1:22-23
A couple years ago there was a popular diet plan which lasted 30 days. I didn’t read the book, so I may be getting the details wrong, but the idea was that you commit to radical change for one month. I’m sure the diet prescribed some permanent changes, but the gimmick was that anyone considering it would think – I could do that for 30 days. This is similar to just about every approach I’ve taken to eating healthier. I make significant changes and I’m successful for a short amount of time, but then I just go back to eating like I always do, gaining back the weight.
Most of us have been there. We know how we’re supposed to eat. Ours isn’t usually a knowledge problem. Ours is an appetite or behavioral problem. We know healthy, but we prefer unhealthy. We can override our appetite for a period of time, but in the end, we go back to eating the way we always have, simply following our nature.
Unfortunately, a lot of us have taken the same approach to our faith. We believe in God’s existence. We know some stuff about him. Perhaps at one point we even asked forgiveness, proclaiming faith in him. Maybe we changed some self-destructive behavior for a while. Eventually though, we’ve gone back to living the way we’ve always lived – for ourselves. We know right, but we want our way more. We believe in God, but we follow our path instead of his.
Paul must have seen this kind of pseudo-faith. In today’s passage, he told the Colossians that God had forgiven them and saw them as blameless – if they kept the faith. Paul didn’t teach that they earned their salvation with their good deeds. If they were truly reconciled to God though, it had to affect their thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. Keeping the faith doesn’t simply mean continuing to believe in a thing. Faith is belief that changes how we live. To keep the faith is to believe in God and to live accordingly.
Faith isn’t simply a 30-day commitment to change. Faith means that we believe in God and then daily point our lives at him for the rest of our days. We won’t do it perfectly and there will always be forgiveness for our failures. If however, we truly belong to Christ, it must affect how we think, speak, and behave for the rest of our lives.