How do I know that I truly believe?
I had been a Christian for many years. I regularly attended church and often thought about the Lord. I attended Bible studies, memorized Scriptures, and shared the Gospel, too. In spite of all these Christ-related gestures, I was spending very little time in prayer and in God’s Word.
I was not abiding in Christ.
One morning many years ago, I was dusting the desk in our study when the word “perfunctory” popped into my mind. I have a very busy brain, so random thoughts often fire in my mind, but this was different. The word was foreign to me.
A dictionary was on the desk, which made this mystery all the more interesting. “Perfunctory” describes someone who acts with “minimal effort or reflection.” Synonyms include “apathy,” “disinterest,” and “complacency.”
Since it was nearly impossible for me to think of a word that I had never heard, I wondered if God had just “read my mail.” It certainly seemed Scriptural — and understandable — that God might want to have a word with me (pun intended) to interrupt the lukewarm rhythm of my Christian walk.
I began to think long and hard about my faith. I thought of the times I promised to pray for someone but didn’t, made decisions without consulting God, and squeezed a perfunctory prayer and a Bible verse or two into my busy, self-centered schedule.
Since this experience, I’ve searched for passages in the Bible that compare the pure and the perfunctory, those that describe what pleases God, those that compare the real and the counterfeit, and actions done in the flesh rather than by the Spirit. I’ve stumbled on words and phrases that I previously overlooked. Scriptures like “…the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23).
Timothy wrote of “a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). James wrote of demons who “also believe – and tremble” (James 2:19). Paul tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). All of these passages — and my experience in the study — cause me to ask God, “Am I a true worshiper?”
Honestly, I don’t feel like one sometimes. I feel more like a me-worshiper. Now, the cry of my heart is, “Lord, please help me be a true worshiper!”
Do I sometimes have partial belief? I’m sure I do. My faith (belief) increases the more I read God’s Word. Sometimes I say to God, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
Do I believe a theory more than a Savior? I think it’s easy to slip into this mindset, especially when my mind is not being renewed by Scripture.
I don’t know if God spoke the word “perfunctory” to me that day, but the experience causes me to continually search my heart, remain mindful of the Holy Spirit’s role and presence, stay in the Scripture, and desire a very personal relationship with the Lord.
Honest to God Sermon Series
It’s okay to ask questions. Yes, even the difficult ones about God and faith. In our current sermon series, “Honest to God,” Rev. Paul Rasmussen and Rev. Matt Tuggle answer some of the tough questions that we all have.