Behavior over Belief

TerrorismToday My Joy and I returned to our homes in Indiana. We had a wonderful week long visit to Pennsylvania, and I will share our experiences in blogs to follow. But before we left I was working on a draft that I will now  attempt to finish.

The ISIS terrorists believed it was right for them to cut off the heads of US journalists in response to US airstrikes that had killed so many of them. They believed it was fair to do so. Their way is the way of Moses, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.

Then Vice President Biden warned that the US will follow terrorists to the gates of hell for, Biden said, hell they deserve and there they will reside. Biden said what he thought needed to be said, but he was responding to evil in a way even more severe than the way of Moses.

loveyourenemies1Hearing Biden reminded me that my post on “Being A Political Partisan for Jesus” is misleading. In it I wrote, “A Christian is motivated by the values and activities of Jesus.” I should not have made that statement because it is not always true. I meant to say that a true follower of Jesus is motivated by the values and activities of Jesus. Not all who call themselves  Christians behave like Jesus.

Please ponder carefully with me, for I am trying to make significant distinctions between behavior and belief.

bless themSome Christians believe the stories of the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection  and  ascension of Jesus, the promise of his return, and that there is a real heaven with streets of gold and a literal hell with fire. Despite their simple belief system they do not behave like Jesus.  Some others who doubt the miraculous, and some who do not even know about Jesus, do behave like Jesus.

A woman who worked as a an EMT became a seminary student. Now, between study terms at the seminary she volunteers to go to Iraq as a member of a Christian Peacemaker Team.  She believes that a calm and quiet spirit is more effective than military weapons.  It appears to me that this seminary student behaves like Jesus. To me, behavior is more important than belief.

These Christian beliefs are sometimes enjoyed in art forms such as singing, preaching, praying and drama in congregational worship. However, a follower of Jesus ought to be more concerned about behaving like Jesus than believing the right things about Jesus. When I urged us to be partisans for Jesus, I should have asked us to be a partisan for the way of Jesus.

No-Turning-Back-titleThe Thesaurus word for today is monomania which describes a one-minded focus on a certain thing. Readers may think that my mind is focused only on acceptance of glbt persons into the church.  My monomania, if I have one, is a single-minded focus on the recovery of church unity so that the world may see our common Jesus-like behavior and be attracted to the way peace.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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3 Responses to Behavior over Belief

  1. D. Lowell N issley says:

    I agree with you Martin. The gospel does not run on a monorail. It has two tracks. One is what we say we believe (birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus), the other is the evidence of what we believe. The entire Sermon on the Mount says nothing about what we believe. It is about the evidence. This is the full gospel.

  2. Sam Troyer says:

    Glad to see you back, I agree with you deeds and behavior are more important than words.

  3. Raymond Martin says:

    “they will know we are Christians by our love”: Was this truth from the 60’s told by one who many thought was a rule-breaker? How many such things could we site?

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