The Perils of A Checklist Faith
A Facebook acquaintance, who also happens to be an outspoken conservative Christian, posted the following "test" on her Facebook feed the other day.
How faithful are you in your Christian life? Give yourself a point for each level. Then work to earn points for each level you have not yet achieved. Remember we are all a work in progress. You are to be commended even if you are a new Christian at the very first level.
How many points thus far?
- Level 1. Salvation
- Level 2. Baptism
- Level 3. Sunday morning church attendance
- Level 4. Sunday School attendance
- Level 5. Sunday evening attendance
- Level 6. Wednesday evening attendance
- Level 7. Church membership
- Level 8. Regular Bible study
- Level 9. Regular Bible memory program
- Level 10. Bible college courses
- Level 11. Have an Active Witness
- Level 11. Have Active Converts
- Level 12. Have Immediate family members that are saved.
- Level 13. Other avenues of Christian service
No need to post your results. Just strive to improve your efforts to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
Despite what she might argue, this person's list has little to do with love or grace, it doesn't speak to the sovereign love of God, and it patently ignores the teachings and example of Jesus.
Truth be told, if you change some words around, you would probably be describing a list created by the 1st century Pharisees that Jesus contended with so often--the kinds of people who were obsessed with appearances, and knowing the right things.
I read this quote by Anthony Di Mello today that I thought spoke directly into this:
Effort can put food into your mouth, it cannot produce an appetite; it can keep you in bed, it cannot produce sleep; it can make you reveal a secret to another but it cannot produce trust; it can force you to pay a compliment, it cannot produce genuine admiration; effort can perform acts of service, it is powerless to produce love or holiness.Following Jesus isn't a competition where you rack up points for going through the motions of what some tradition says it takes to be a Christian.
Following Jesus is a journey where every step of the way you desire more and more not to simply know things about Jesus, but to become more like Him.
May you leave behind the false narrative of a transactional faith fueled in fear, and dependent upon your effort. Instead, may you embrace a faith grounded in God's never-ending, unconditional love and grace through Jesus Christ.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.