Last night, here at the YLI conference in Idaho, Robin pointed out that in the Bible Jesus talks a lot more about our "orthopraxy" than He does our "orthodoxy." In case, like most people, those words don't make sense, I'll clarify: Jesus is much more concerned about our lifestyle than He is about what we believe. Yet in church the first and most defining aspect of Christianity is usually what we believe, that's the first thing we approach and we rarely go beyond it. If you believe that Jesus is your savior and a few other doctrinal statements then you're set.
Why on earth do we think this?
If you look at everyday life it's obvious that your belief or knowledge alone just doesn't cut it. I believe that Jesus is my savior, sure, but if I don't follow Him none of that matters. Sometimes we see the lifestyle aspect as gravy; just something extra you should do if you're a Christian. But in scripture it's almost the other way around. God wants our hearts and the mind comes second. So what does it mean for God to have our heart?
"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
If God has our hearts then our lives will built upon Him. Everything we do will be intentional and our lives will be oriented around a mission. It won't be about knowing the right answers, though that's good and helpful. It's won't be primarily about believing in Jesus, though that's essential. It will be about the way we live our lives. Your heart it very corporeal, it's physical. Your heart absolutely has something to do with the way you live your life.
Isn't this obvious? God obviously cares about our lifestyle. Why else would there be so many struggles in life? He is constantly shaping us and reforming us and bringing us closer to new creation. He's, on a daily basis, prompting us to revisit the way we live our lives. He's an artist not a salesman. An artist continuously chisels at the stone to create beauty whereas a salesman tries to convince the consumer that buying his product will satisfy. The artist realizes that beauty takes work and patience and time. The salesman tries to present a quick and easy answer. God is not interested in instant gratification. He doesn't necessarily want to make us happy, He wants to make us beautiful. So He works on us, reshaping us into His image, breathing His breath of life into us and making us new. And He wants the whole person to be beautiful. Not just the mind, not just the body but the whole thing... In the words of Quint from the movie Jaws "...The head, the tail, the whole damn thing."
This is why generosity is so important. This is why the "fruit of the Spirit" are so important. Because God is still creating just like He did in Genesis 1. He's more interested in the goodness of His creation than He is about what it believes about Him. If you think about it like that the whole belief thing as the final project seems silly. If beauty and goodness is what God is after then beauty and goodness must be the final project. What you believe is meaningless if it doesn't lead to beauty and goodness.