Keeping the Faith

Covering the Faith Base

Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on doors.  Muslims eat halal food.  Hare Krishnas wear distinctive orange robes.  Buddhists meditate.  What of Christians?

All these religions are committed to some kind of meaningful custom that sets them apart and honours their concept of god.  Modern Christianity, however, seems increasingly devoid of distinction, bending to the ways of its culture.

I realise this isn’t necessarily bad or wrong.  It is in an attempt to remain relevant, after all, that the modern church features pop-style worship music over traditional hymns, services that employ the latest mixed-media innovations, shortened sermons to meet our shortened attention spans and social media engagement.

But how do you know me to be a follower of Christ?  What sets me apart?

The Bible is the believer’s life manual.  If that’s the case, and we’re serious about our convictions, perhaps we should be recognised by its physical presence in our home, handbag, workplace and car.  Perhaps we should be set apart by the fact we have our nose in it at every opportunity.  Not a common sight, sadly.

The Bible tells us how to live in a very practical way.

No swearing (Ephesians 4:29). Yet, I know Christians with serious potty mouth.

No sex before marriage (Hebrews 13:4).  But I know plenty of Christians who ‘try before they buy’.

Keep the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11). But very few Christians set Sunday, or any day, apart for God – no further than attending the obligatory church service.

Which brings me to my original question: how do you know a modern Christian?  Are we just covering the faith base or are we prepared to allow our God-conviction to permeate every facet of our lives? To live as Jesus did.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:22-25)

Christianity is more than religion.  We do have distinguishing customs but the difference is that Jesus came to set us free from the need for repetitive rituals.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

I see my faith as a circle.

Jesus accepts me as I am, no need for sacrifice or ritual, no need to alter my diet or dress.  There’s 180 degrees of the circle.  Because I love Him and am devoted to Him, I want to please Him, which completes the circle, 360 degrees of continuous love and freedom (in truth, my ‘circle’ looks more like a jellybean on a binge – I stuff up, God forgives, I get back on track, I stuff up, God forgives… you get the picture!)

Speaking to the Christian readers out there: is your life evidence of your faith?  And to those who do not carry the ‘Christian’ tag, who perhaps are disillusioned by religion: freedom, not rules, is where it’s at.  Don’t believe the misconception.

First published in The Examiner newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday October 1, 2013.


  1. Good article. Your question of what distinctive things make someone look like a Christian reminds me of Jesus’ words in John 13:35. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

  2. Laura Palmer says

    Do you cover your head when praying, Claire? Do you pray in secret? Are you silent in the church, as is commanded in 1 Corinthians? Do you wear pants? Do you wear nice clothes and jewellery (I’d say yes, considering you have many many pretty dresses). Have you left your family to follow Christ? Do you abstain from calling anyone else father? Do you abstain from judging others who do not share your viewpoint? Do you abstain from planning or preparing? Do you follow the law of the OT?

    If not, according to the verse that you have posted, (James 1:22-25), then you are not a Christian.

    In fact, I don’t think that there is a so-called “christian” on the planet who can safely say that they follow the laws of the Bible. None of you follow the law, only pick the bits out that you like.

    • The point of Christianity is different from all the other religions. It is like how one has oversped and is fined $500. However, the judge decides to pay it for you because he loves you so much, he does not want you to be punished. He loves you that much. It does not matter how much good one has done, or how religious one is, if one does not choose to accept this salvation, one is not brought right with God. God is like the judge. We, humans are all like the person who was caught speeding. What matters is one’s repentance from the heart. One does not strive for heaven, one is allowed into heaven, provided one is saved – by accepting Christ as Saviour. Christianity is not like other religions where it is about doing good works to be saved, etc.

    • If one does not repent and accept Christ as Saviour, one will be punished, because God is a good Judge. He cannot allow a person who has broken His Law to be with Him. I would hate that to happen to you. I would hate that to happen to anyone. You could die anytime today or tomorrow. This is not a scare tactic. It is the reality. Where would you want to spend in Eternity?

      • Laura Palmer says

        Reality? Um, yeah, ok. Believing in superstitions is not the definition of reality. It is the opposite, really.

        All Christians have broken the law and do so regularly with no qualms. Do you open your mouth and talk when in Church, Jan? Then you are breaking god’s law. You have picked the bits you like and chucked out the rest.

        Hypocrites, all of you.

  3. Hi Laura,

    You seem to be quite upset about Claire sharing her insights and Biblical understanding.
    It’s true, though, that the verses and concepts you have alluded to are in the Bible.  However, in addition to what Jan has said, the main point of the Bible is to tell us about Jesus, and how we should respond to him.  Being a Christian is all about understanding who Jesus is and placing our faith in Him.  The Apostle Paul tells about Jesus:
    ‘For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

    and also

    ‘In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.’ (Acts 17:30-31)

    So Jesus lives and the Bible was written so that ‘… you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ (John 20:31)

    Christians do experience life and freedom, as Claire has mentioned, and we endeavour to live in a way that is honouring to God because of what he has done for us.  And Claire’s point is that this may not be obvious to everyone.  But we aspire to it and be like Paul, who said

    ‘The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ (Galatians 2:20b)

    • Laura Palmer says

      Upset? Why do Christians always come back with that when someone challenges their beliefs? No, not upset at all.

      You have proved my point. You have picked the bits you like and disregarded the rest. Do you follow all the laws that I posted above? I doubt it.

  4. sdfa says

    Hi Laura

    Christianity is not about doing good. It is about repentance and reliance on God to bring one to repentance. That Christians do fall is consistent with what the Bible says: that people need God. You have not proven your point at all.

  5. Laura, hi, how are you?

    When reading the Bible, we need to understand the different covenants and contexts to which these laws applied. For example, the nation of Israel in the Old Testament was placed under a covenant of works and was required to keep all the levitical laws.  In the New Testament, Jesus came and fulfilled the old covenant and replaced it with a covenant of grace, where God’s people are accepted by God through believing in what Jesus did in dying and rising again.  Because there is a change in the covenants, there is also a change in the law (Hebrews 7:12). Now for us, God’s primary laws are these:

    ‘And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.’ (1 John 3:23)

    Christian do take the Bible seriously (including the things you have mentioned) and don’t simply pick bits out that they like, but rather they join local churches to learn how to apply the Bible in their own lives.

    Being a Christian is not about following rules and laws, but rather, it’s about believing in what Jesus has done, and then seeking to honour him because of this.

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