THIS WEEK: 7 Things to Add to Your Faith to Be an Effective Christian!
“I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.”
This phrase is clear and confusing at the same time. It is clear when I understand there are things about the visible church that challenge and frustrate some so they feel it better to practice their faith on their own. It is confusing, because the practice of one’s belief (religion) is a natural manifestation of one’s faith (spirituality).
What we are adding to our faith today is godliness. This is the outward exercise of our faith. It is the making visible in our lives the goodness of God that characterizes us. Godliness is the thoughts, actions and words that reflect and align to the thoughts, actions and words of God.
Do you see where Peter is taking us in our journey of “adding to our faith”? Faith is the inner trust in Jesus as my Savior. This takes over our inner being and character (goodness). It shapes my experiences (knowledge). It challenges me to control my sinful nature (self-control) and not give up (perseverance). One might say these are the “inner transformation” of the Christian faith.
Godliness, then, is outer expression of the inner transformation God has worked.
Add to godliness, brotherly kindness.
The word translated “brotherly kindness” is “Philadelphia.” Sound familiar? The “City of Brotherly Love.” William Penn named this city in Pennsylvania to establish good faith between his colony and the Lenape tribe.
In 1681, Charles II of England bestowed a charter upon Penn as part of a debt repayment, and that charter included the land that would become the Pennsylvania Colony. However, Penn wanted to remain on good terms with the Lenape tribe that had originally settled on the land, and so he put the charter aside and purchased it directly from the Lenape people. After making a friendship treaty with a Lenape chief named Tammany, in what is now Philadelphia’s Fishtown (and was called Shackamaxon at the time), Penn named the city “Philadelphia,” which means “brotherly love” in Greek. (Quoted from https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/pennsylvania/articles/philadelphia-got-name/)
William Penn was a Quaker who desired to create a city that reflected this quality of the Christian faith. If that vision was realized, is perhaps open for debate. What is not debatable is that a primary reflection of our faith is how we choose to treat one another. It’s easy to defriend someone. It is harder to do what it takes to make a “friendship treaty” with them. With God’s Spirit adding “brotherly love” to your faith…you can do it!
Apply: With whom do I need help developing a “friendship treaty”?
Prayer: Lord, show me ways to exhibit what you are doing on my inside to the people on my outside. Amen.