By Dr. James C. Denison
President, the Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas
May 14, 2010
Topic: true faith
Your spiritual passport
Imagine being stopped this morning by a policeman asking to see your passport. Not in China or Russia but Portland or Dallas. Is this a bad thing? Not according to Christopher Dickey, writing for today’s Newsweek website. He argues that an essential step in dealing with illegal immigration is to require that all citizens own passports and carry at least the wallet-sized passport card now available.
The Arizona alternative being debated so hotly today recently caused a Hispanic truck driver to be handcuffed while his wife found his birth certificate to show authorities. If a passport card were required of all citizens, such frustrations would be avoided, at least in Mr. Dickey’s view.
I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, nor is such a debate my point this morning. I’m thinking of the issue as a spiritual metaphor: What is my passport to eternal life? How might I convince you that I am a genuine Christian? I can tell you that I became one on September 9, 1973 when my Sunday school teacher led me to saving faith in Jesus. But if you want more than words, what proof should I be able to produce?
Jesus answered our question decisively: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). We prove we are the children of God by the degree to which we love our Father and his family. When I am motivated to write this essay by my love for God and for you, my words demonstrate the sincerity of my faith. When I am not, they don’t.
Someone cautioned us, “Beware of those who preach only because it’s Sunday.” Or write a devotional only because it’s Friday. Or teach a class or sing in a choir or serve on a committee or give financially only because it’s their religious duty. When we serve God and each other because we love God and each other, the world will take note. Tertullian (born AD 160) quoted those who witnessed such devotion among the Christians of his day: “See how they love each other.” Would they say the same of your church and mine?
The best way for me to love God and you is to ask the Holy Spirit to manifest his love through me. To this end, please consider a prayer I was shown yesterday morning while speaking at an event near Austin, Texas. A godly participant gave me this guidance:
“Five minutes every day keep your imagination quiet. Shut your eyes to all things of sense and close your ears to all sounds of earth, so as to be able to withdraw into the sanctuary of your soul, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Speak there to that Holy Spirit saying:
“O Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me. Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it. I promise to be submissive to everything that you permit to happen to me. Show me only what is Your will.” Why not make this prayer yours today?
When I was in high school, my youth minister asked me, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Well?
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