For many years Christian scholars have written about the disconnect between the belief system of Christianity and the practical application of these beliefs. Studies show that many of the things that are occurring outside of the Christian realm are also happening within the Church. When we look at attitudes, adultery, divorce, financial mismanagement, and even suicide the statistics are not making a great case for inviting others into a transforming relationship with Jesus. In many cases God seems to be taking people through a difficult period in their life to show them blessing and strengthen their faith. Other times, believers may stray from Biblical principles in search of their own comfort and this is what causes the distress.
In the latter conclusion one has to evaluate what is missing to send them down this path. Is the power of God not strong enough? Is this message untrue? Is Christ’s redeeming work actually not applicable in today’s context? These are all valid questions especially for someone who is witnessing the behavior and attitude of someone who claims to follow God.
I think this disconnect comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of belief. As pastors and Biblical teachers we have often looked at Christian principles as a set of facts to be memorized and have encouraged people to agree with this information. It is easy to do this especially when the teacher presents a good case.
Agreement is a wonderful conclusion and we want people to agree with the information we are conveying, but the real goal is acceptance. Many people are struggling in their faith (that they cognitively agree with) because they have not fully accepted that God loves them and there is nothing they can do about it. They need to know that Christ desires that they live a life that reflects this love to the world (the love that is hard to accept because hurts still occur and are being grieved). Accepting this persistent love makes transformation possible….it is the key to showing the world this information is not meaningless data, but life giving.