Updated: Apr 23, 2020
“It doesn’t matter what you believe. What matters is what you do.”
This statement sums up the feelings of a growing number of people. And to some degree I agree. If you truly believe something it should be reflected in your actions. But, the belief that what you believe doesn’t actually matter can be downright dangerous. While there are logical and practical reasons for this, I want to focus on just three reasons from Scripture. God really does care what you believe. Here’s why.
Faith is God’s greatest concern about you.
Almost universally, people believe that the Christian God is primarily concerned about behavior, what we do. While we can see how this understanding could develop, a careful reading of Scripture shows that God is actually more concerned about your faith. Faith is the one thing the Bible says you must have in order to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) When the people asked Jesus what they needed to do to perform the work God required, Jesus replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29).
Faith, like love or fear, requires an object. You can’t have faith generically; you must have faith in something or someone. And that object of your faith is vitally important.
I’m a Chicago Bears fan. (I know, pity me.) I might sit down in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon to watch the game and say, “I have faith that the Bears will win!” The obvious object of my faith is the Bears team. My faith isn’t generically in the game of football itself, it’s in my favored team.
In the same way, my faith is in the God who is described in the Bible. I can have faith in a god other than the one described in the Bible, but that is not the Christian God. That’s a different God. And the God of the Bible cares about that.
2. God wants to be known for who he really is.
Imagine I told you that I loved my wife. “She’s the best wife in the world,” I say. Your obvious response might be, “Oh? What’s she like?”
“Well,” I say, “she’s just wonderful. She has short blonde hair, blue eyes, and the cutest Southern accent you’ve ever heard. She has a PhD in physics, a black belt in karate, and she drives NASCAR on weekends.”
If you’ve ever met my wife, you know that she is none of those things. She is the best wife in the world; and I do love her dearly, but not because any of the descriptors above are true. In fact, she has long brown hair, hazel eyes, and the cutest Chicago accent you’ve ever heard. She has amazing gifts of hospitality and service, cooks incredible meals, and is a bigger Chicago Bears fan than I am.
So, if say I love my wife, but when I think of her my mind is filled with images that aren’t anything like her, who do I really love?
The same is true in our relationship with God. God cares what we believe about him, because it either accurately reflects him or it doesn’t. So, for instance, if I say I believe in him, but that he would never punish the guilty, I’m actually believing in some other so called god.. (Numbers 14:18)
3. God wants a genuine relationship with you.
It’s easy to forget that God’s purpose is to reconcile us to himself so that we can be in relationship together. (2 Corinthians 5:19) We get so wrapped up in the do’s and don’ts that we forget God wants us to know him.
I can’t know someone if I don’t know anything about them. In fact, knowing about a person precedes knowing them. I know some things about George Clooney and Jimmy Carter, but I haven’t met them. If we were at a gathering together, I might know some things about you before I met you: what you look like, what your laugh sounds like, how you sit or stand. Knowing about someone precedes knowing them. And knowing about someone is a major way that we grow in our relationship once we do know that person.
Discovering that my wife thinks washing the dishes is a greater act of love than buying flowers was an important milestone in our relationship. Knowing that fact about her allowed us to grow in our love and intimacy. I could try to show her my love by buying acres of roses, sincerely believing in my heart that she would feel overwhelmed with joy. But, despite my beliefs, she would still be angry that I spent so much money on something destined to die in a few days and that I was so out of tune with her genuine longings.
Does God care about what we do? Of course. But, it won’t matter what we do if we don’t work to understand God as he really is and align our beliefs with those truths.
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