I am an astronaut. Don’t believe me? Good call. I’m not an astronaut, but I am a runner. I can say I’m an astronaut a thousand times, even put it on a billboard along a busy highway, but it will not make me one. How do you know I’m not a space man? There’s no evidence. You won’t find photographs of me walking on the Moon, or tethered to the side of a space ship. You won’t find my name on official NASA rosters, because I’ve never been an astronaut. On the other hand, you will find my name and photograph evidence all over the running world. With access to online race results, I will leave a trail long after I’ve left this world. There is evidence going back to the 1980’s! I’m a runner and I can prove it!
I am a Christian. The question becomes, “Is there enough evidence to make it obvious to those around me?” You may have heard it put another way, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Today’s world affords us so much convenience. Technology makes our lives so much easier. Think of all the things you can do with a smartphone, for example. We access a wealth of information at our fingertips each day. I remember having to go to the library to find an answer to a question. What took us hours a few years ago can be done in seconds today. Maybe that’s why there are people who believe being a Christian means saying a prayer and then going back to the same life they lived before. It’s easy to believe in that level of simplicity because we live in an instant satisfaction world, but the Bible is very clear on the issue. James tells us in his letter that faith without works is dead. He also explains in James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” Satan himself knows who Jesus is and he believes. It doesn’t mean he’s saved. How do we know? The evidence shows that he is clearly opposed to God.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:20, “You will know them by their fruits.” He was speaking about Christians who are saved through Him. He goes on to say in verse 21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “He who goes to church…” It is possible to be an artificial Christian, going through the motions on Sunday, but showing a different side on Monday through Saturday. Unless there is proof of Christ in us when we are outside the walls of the church, the evidence is not sufficient. After all, one of the most popular reasons non-believers give for not attending church is that they feel church-goers are hypocrites.
On the other hand, we know that good works will not save us. Titus 3:4-7 says, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” No matter how many good deeds we perform, they will not get us a ticket to heaven. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work for Him, it simply means that being good is not enough. We cannot be good enough to earn our way to heaven. It is a free gift!
It is not about what we have to do to be saved, it about what we want to do once we are saved. Once we come to the realization of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, we will not be able to stop doing good things and spreading His name. James put it this way, “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:20-24). The evidence shown in our works proves our faith. Being a Christian is not a box to check off as if it is part of a to-do list.
Here’s the good news. Sometimes you have to go out of your way to show your faith by taking care of someone who needs you, or visiting a funeral home to comfort someone who is grieving. But showing evidence of your faith is an everyday practice too. That means sharing your faith with a waitress at your favorite restaurant, showing kindness to an elderly lady at the grocery store, or sharing the Run for God story with someone at the oil change place when they comment on your shirt. We can show the evidence of our faith in any and all interactions and everyday situations.
If you own a GPS watch, you know that it makes training better. You know your pace, your distance and maybe even your heart rate. After downloading the information, you can analyze everything you have done and create a better plan for the future. But, it won’t run the miles for you. It will only aide you in your training. When you say the sinner’s prayer, it is only the first step, like buying the watch. If you just speak a prayer and your life is not changed, the prayer is meaningless, like leaving the watch in the box. Praying that prayer doesn’t mean you turn into a perfect human being, but people around you should notice the change. I hope you have taken the watch out of the box. I hope you’re wearing it out! If you have purchased the watch but have not used it yet, what are you waiting for?
Dean Thompson, Run for God