Many people like their idea of Jesus Christ but don’t have a relationship with Him. They believe they do, and they are gambling eternity with cards they do not have. 1 John 3:6 (New Living Translation) says, “Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.”

If your belief in Christ does not lead to a changed life that works to please God and increasingly ceases sinning, then your belief is not faith; it is a theory.

There is a great danger in having a theoretical faith in Christ instead of a dynamic relationship with Christ that lives faithfully. A theoretical faith gives intellectual agreement with the existence of God, the belief that Jesus is God’s Son, and a wish to go to heaven. A dynamic relationship lives in an ongoing, intentional connection with God that utilizes His grace and power through Christ to overcome sin and express love through obedience to God’s commands. A theoretical faith is like opening a checking account that only writes checks without ever making deposits. It is bankrupt and criminal. A dynamic relationship with God in Christ is a sharing and mingling of life between God and a Christ-follower. Love flows in both directions, and God’s will and ways are embraced as the way to live life. A theoretical faith is satisfied with a pittance of the knowledge of God. A dynamic relationship hungers and thirsts to grow deeper and closer to God.

The tragedy is that many people hold to a belief in the idea of Christ, but they are still living selfish, sinful, and unchanged lives.

Like a person who buys a wallet containing sample pictures who pretends those pictured are their family, so is the person who carries an empty notion of believing in Christ; there is nothing really there, no true connections, no resemblance, and the relationship is merely an illusion. Should such a person expect the people pictured in their wallet to send them birthday and Christmas gifts? Do they ever receive calls or visits from their imaginary family? Of course not. Imagine that wallet owner showing up at the home of one of the people pictured therein and insisting that they are related because they own a picture. Not only would that not go over well, but sanity might be called into question. Yet many expect to be accepted in heaven even though their relationship with Christ was never any more real than that of the people pictured in the purchased wallet with the purchaser. God’s salvation through Jesus is offered freely; it can’t be earned. However, when God saves us, we are born anew into God’s family.

Jesus is not a photo in your wallet; He expects us to do the things that build real relationships with Him and the other members of the family of the redeemed. This means that we should grow to resemble Christ in the way we live. We should get together with the family of God in frequent, regular church life, service, and participation. We must learn what God the Father teaches by reading and conforming our lives with the Bible. We should call God every day through prayer. Just as a baby newly born cannot survive without a caring, nurturing family, neither can a person who wants to be saved so that he/she can go to heaven survive in isolation from the things of God. Many otherwise healthy people have stopped attending church or have become infrequent, especially since COVID-19. Since Jesus founded the church and is the head thereof, it is His will that we participate and build one another up. How then can a person have a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus if they disobey Him? How can we belong to Christ and yet live only for our pleasures? Is your relationship with Jesus alive and growing or theoretical, artificial, and stagnant? I want to see you enjoy God’s rewards in eternity, so I pray that you’ll audit your life and pray seriously so that you don’t settle for the illusion of belief, instead of a faith-powered new and abundant life in Christ.

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