Is My Faith Even Real?
By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:5-6
When I was in treatment for my addiction, my life was an absolute mess. I’d believed in God my entire life, but I’d followed my own appetite to disaster. I said I lived by one set of values, but my behavior was contrary to all those values. I’d been living as an imposter – a faker – claiming to be something that I was not. This conflict led me to a crisis of faith where I had to ask myself if that faith was even real. Others were asking the same thing and I couldn’t blame them. Christians don’t act like this, right? I wasn’t wrong to ask the question. I was living as a colossal hypocrite, claiming to be one thing, while living a lie. This realization caused me a tremendous amount of internal conflict.
Today’s passage addresses this conflict. In it, John stated the obvious – If we truly follow Christ, our lives will look like we follow Christ. The opposite is true as well – If our lives look like we follow ourselves, then we don’t follow Christ. Christians, by definition, are meant to walk as Christ walked. This is the measure of a Christian. If our faith is real, then it must have a profound impact on our thoughts, words, and actions. This impact will be obvious to others and if we ever get to the point where we question our own faith, we should simply look at ourselves and ask – Does my life look like I follow Christ’s commands?
The problem of course, is that, like me in my addiction, we can be quite blind to our own hypocrisy. For 15 years, until my life came apart, I lived quite comfortably with the complete contradiction between my beliefs and my behavior. We have a tremendous capacity for tolerating the inconsistency between our supposed faith and our actions. Many of us live as Christian imposters without even realizing it. We’re faking it and we don’t even know it.
So, now, living in faith and recovery has meant continually working to change my life so that it aligns with my beliefs. Is my faith real? If so, then it must necessarily affect my thoughts, words, and actions. This isn’t just about not using drugs. This is about the direction of my life. I won’t live perfectly. I will make mistakes and those mistakes don’t mean I’m not a Christian or my faith isn’t real. Living by faith though, means identifying those mistakes and daily turning my life towards God’s path instead of my own.