The world is coming to an end on December 21, 2012. It’s a done deal, according to internet sources! Just Google “end times” and you will find dozens of books purportedly by Christians that will tell you of the coming apocalypse. (There is one still for sale that claims God will destroy the world in 2008, but I’m sure the author has a good explanation for that one.)
Apparently Nostradamus and the ancient Mayans are in agreement on this one, so more people claim to believe it. There’s even a movie coming out this fall called “2012,” so we can all get a sneak preview of our demise.
I have no desire to ignite an end times debate, but recently I heard someone say something in passing that caught my attention. He said that the word “believe” essentially means “by live.” While not completely accurate, it is true that what we really believe is what we will really live by — or at least try. Let’s face it, if people really believed that the world was coming to an end in the near future, would they go to work? If I really thought that there would be no 2013, I would not save money, pay my bills, bother paying taxes or worry about the economy. If I believed that the end was near, I would live that way.
Worldwide destruction aside, there is an important daily application of this principle. It’s easy to say that we believe the Bible, but sometimes it seems difficult to live by it. Which raises the question: what do we really believe?
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith,” Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians. He realized that our beliefs should translate to our thoughts, words and actions. Otherwise, it raises doubts as to what we really believe. Of course, none of us is perfect, so there is a lifelong struggle to align our old nature with our new spirit. So I have developed a new exercise for self-examination that I will share with you.
From now on, substitute the word “believe” with the phrase “live by.” Instead of saying, “I believe in daily prayer,” say, “I live by daily prayer.” If the second declaration is true, then so is the first one. If not, there is a disconnection. I’m not trying to put anyone on a guilt trip, because I’m primarily talking to myself. When I ran through a short list of things I believe, it forced me to examine my certitude when making the substitution. For example:
– I “live by” studying God’s Word every day.
– I “live by” the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
– I “live by” the omnipresence of God. He is with me every moment of the day.
– I “live by” an unashamed witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) In other words, if we believe that we love him, we will live by his commandments. How can something so simple seem so hard? Just before Paul tells us to examine ourselves, he says that “we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him….” This natural weakness can only be overcome by a supernatural presence. In a sense, Paul is calling our bluff. It’s easy to talk spiritual, but what do we have when we actually live?
There has always been criticism of hypocrisy among Christians. Of course, that is true because we hold to a standard that is beyond our own capabilities.
Do we sometimes fail? Of course! We are human beings! This is where the glory lies. Yes, we believe in something that is higher than human nature. Yes, we believe that we can be transformed by the grace of God into better people. And that is why it should be a daily exercise to turn what we “believe” into what we live.
So the next time someone tells you it’s all over in 2012, ask how it has changed their living. And don’t forget that Jesus said no man knows the day nor hour.
2009 April Lorier
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Mark 13:32