A Check-Box Kinda’ Faith

Belief in God is More Than A Single Scripture Verse

Ask just about any Christian today about their beliefs, and they are likely to quote John 3:16 or a commonly quoted verse with minimal context. We see these verses on tattoos, car decals, and a plethora of wall hangings. Are quick verse references like John 3:16 the manifestation of a devoted following of believers or the side-effect of something else? By no means am I trying to marginalize an essential aspect of Contemporary Christianity. Having Scripture around serves as a beautiful way to remind us of God’s presence. However, I perceive a perversion of sorts when Scripture verses are displayed and no around is heeding their words. This is nothing more than the markings of a curtailed Check-box kinda’ faith. In other words:

Believe in Christ. Check.

Sunday worship. Check

Fellowship afterward. Check

Send my kid to Sunday school. Check

Pick my kid up when Sunday school is over. Check

Help with Christmas Pageant. Check

Sacrifice eating McDonald’s for Lent. Check.

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The problem with the check-box faith is that it misses the point entirely. There is a continuous false narrative in the world that says the whole point to Christianity is to believe in Christ, the Son of God, the Biblical Messiah, and you, the sinner, get a free ticket to eternal life. And while that may satisfy a portion of the story, that narrative is way out in left field. Why do I argue this point? Two keywords in the well-versed John 3:16: Belief and Love. What does it mean to honestly believe in God? Why do so many Christians believe, yet can only sparingly reference Scripture? Does belief require love? Can they be separate?

If you’ve decided to read this far, I want to do a little exercise with you. Take a minute or two and contemplate things you believe in. Not about the origins of life, the cosmos, Santa, or the tooth fairy, but ethical or moral things you genuinely believe in. Or ponder the passions that drive you and the causes that excite you. Why do you engage in those things? Really think about them hardcore.

What is it you feel? How are your emotions responding, and what kind of thoughts appear in your mind? Write down or make a mental note of some of the feelings you feel as they come to you.

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While you are still contemplating these passions and causes, may I take a guess on one of the emotions you may be feeling? I’m going to guess Love. Think about it; was I somewhere in the ballpark, at least? Because I believe Love is one of the strongest pillars that uphold the things we believe in. More so, affection is the fuel that empowers us to act on those beliefs. Without it, we feel as if we’re checking off another box. Our faith in the Triune God is the rocket, and our Desire for God is the fuel to send it to the moon. That is one of the main concepts the Bible puts forth! God doesn’t want us to simply believe in Him, He wants our Passion, Desire, and Love to be set on Him. At what point in Scripture do we see this? And don’t say John 3:16! He doesn’t want our check-boxes, He wants our entire planner! 

Believing in God and obtaining eternal life is only the icing on the cake. And while Free Grace Theology teaches that’s all that is needed, Desiring and Loving God while roaming the Earth will satisfy remarkably more! Yet, many contemporary Christians check-off the ” I believe in God” box and move on. They’re missing out on the joys and mission God has set in motion for us on Earth. The pleasures and riches of a Christ-Centered life are hard to explain to those who haven’t touched it. I can only hope the following advice on how to align with God and Desire Him more will expose those who are curious into a world of internal peace, joy, and Love for God.

  • Read more than John 3:16, start by reading the entire book of John. Then reread it and pay attention this time.
  • Find a Bible Study group, believe the group is weird and quirky, and feel overwhelmingly uncomfortable when you go. Those feelings will go away. Nothing new is comfortable except a couch, and that never gets you anywhere.
  • Act as if you’re talking to someone when you speak to yourself alone; call it God…that’s praying. Sooner rather than later, you’ll notice you’re not by yourself anymore, and you’ll see God does listen; call that revelation a relationship with God.
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  • Be patient with God in times of trouble, He’s been patient with us for thousands of years. Dinosaurs tested Him too much, though. So, let’s try not to repeat their mistakes.
  • Biblical Miracles are the exception, not the rule. Pay attention to your surroundings, and you’ll notice real miracles do happen. We just call them coincidences and science. Make sure to thank the one who made them happen.
  • God is like a radio, and it takes a lifetime to get the tuning just right. Once you do, you’ll never turn the radio off.
  • This world has a tendency to bury love for others underneath a lot of baggage, fight hard to keep your love for others from being buried with it. There is a book that teaches us how to do that; I recommend reading more than John when you reach this point. The entire New Testament is a great place to start.
  • Don’t let differences of Biblical opinion sway your Desire to know God more. Being a Christian has one small caveat: we’re human like everyone else. We’re prone to failure, and will be until the end of days.
  • Always ask questions, especially the hard ones. God can handle them.
  • God can handle your anger too. It’s okay to be angry with Him when the world doesn’t make sense. 
  • Thou must rummage for parchment thou apprehend (Find a Bible Translation you can read). Some will swear by one version or another, but unless you can read Ancient Hebrew or Biblical Greek, you aren’t getting the original text. Reliable translations like ESV, NIV, or NRSV are good starts if you’re Midwestern like me. Try out this free Bible phone app.
    • And don’t let it collect dust on a shelf.
  • Lastly, remember that love is fuel. If your works turn back into meaningless check-boxes, it’s time to refuel the heart. Step back, be still, and let God fill the tank. He’s pretty good like that.
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