Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Reformation Day!

My newly converted, ex-Muslim, friend, Farzaneh, recently shared this story with me. She met up with an old friend she hadn’t seen in years. They both shared that they were now divorced, and Farzaneh’s friend shared that she had a new boyfriend. When Farzaneh (who is not afraid to give unsolicited advice) learned that her friend’s boyfriend was sleeping at her house every night, she said to her, “Sofi, you shouldn’t be sleeping with your boyfriend. You aren’t married, and your 13-year-old daughter is seeing this. What kind of example is that for her?” But Sofi’s face lit up with a smile, as she touched Farzaneh’s arm and explained, “But Farzaneh, don’t you know? I’m not Muslim anymore. I’m Christian! I’ve been baptized. I’m forgiven by the blood of Jesus.” Farzaneh tried in her own, weak way to explain that being forgiven doesn’t give you a license to sin, but to no avail.

Now, I know that most Christians who hear this would just shake their heads and think, “Wow, that lady is really confused about what Christianity is all about.” But it really got me thinking. I mean, maybe most people don’t go to Sofi’s extreme, but aren’t there a lot of self proclaiming Christians who, while they might not announce such ignorance like Sofi did, actually do have a lot in common with her? Did you know that many Muslims believe Christians to be extremely sinful people with low morals? They see Christian women dressing sexy; they see Christians amassing wealth and doing very little for the poor; they see Christians proud and self-centered; they don’t see Christians fasting, and the list goes on and on. (I’m talking Western Christians here, not those in places like India and China!)

I hear Christians often ask whether Mormons and Catholics are really Christian. This is because, while they do solidly believe that Jesus is God’s Son and the Savior who died for our sins, they also have beliefs that aren’t found in the Bible. But you know what? I think there is a better question that Christians should be asking. I think they should be asking: Are Christians really Christian?

Today is Reformation Day. Martin Luther, while he had his flaws, did a lot to expose the abuses of the Church of that time. He preached that salvation is through grace alone—not by our works. That our works cannot save us and that anyone who claims we can be forgiven by our works, blasphemes the name of Christ. Did you know that Martin Luther even wanted the book of James to be removed from the Bible? He felt it spoke too much of works and took away from the grace message. Fortunately, he was unsuccessful in removing James from God’s Word. And I guarantee that if he could see how far the pendulum has swung away from works and towards “grace” he’d be happy that he failed in that endeavor.

James 2:14-26 says: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

So, does this mean we are made right with God by our works? No!! We are redeemed by the blood of Jesus and God’s grace alone. BUT, if we really belong to God, then we WILL show it in our good works. It is only natural. If we are lacking in good works, then we need to question whether or not we are really God’s children.

Now, this wouldn’t be an adoption blog if I didn’t make a plug about adoption. But what better way to say to God, “Thank you Father, for adopting me as your child and making me a joint heir with Jesus! I want to show you my deep love and appreciation by adopting a child waiting for a family—a child who is the love of Your heart!”

I am NOT saying that caring for orphans is the only valid or most important ministry. There are many things we can/should give our lives for: preaching the gospel to the un-reached nations; feeding hungry families; helping poor parents keep and raise their own children; visiting people in prison, helping the elderly, helping widows……the list goes on and on. And in fact, there are too many Christians in the world for all of them to have the privilege of adopting a waiting child, so it’s a good thing that people are called to different ministries. But honestly, I know a LOT of Christian people and I can’t think of many who make it a regular part of their lives to do any of the things listed above.

What are good works to us? Being nice to our kids; being patient with our spouse; working hard; not cursing, smoking, drinking; going to church on Sundays; being kind to people? Well, yeah, I’m sure all those things are great but don’t you just kind of feel like we are missing the mark somewhere here? Isn’t there something deep inside your spirit calling for a more radical denial of your comforts so that you can give up your life for the Lord Jesus? This is one of my favorite and most motivating scriptures: Luke 9:24: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives up his life for my sake will find it.” This is what my husband and I call “The Great Reversal” and how we came up with the name for our worship band/duo. (We even have The Great Reversal t-shirts for sale to raise money for our adoption…..yes, I know it’s shameless to add that right here, lol)

So now you see that I can use absolutely any topic as a springboard into adoption! Lol. But seriously, let’s think about Sofi’s confusion about her faith and then look in our own hearts and lives. Is Christianity just about “believing”? Or does it need to be accompanied by works to be real? A good point to ponder on this Reformation Day.
Be blessed and walk with God my friends! And please pray for us and the boys we will be bringing home in a few months from Bulgaria. Please write to me at if you ever want to talk more about adoption!

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