Day 20: A faith that works – Part 7b

The proof of the pudding is in the eating

Bible References (NIV)

Devotional

Have you ever had a way of behaving that you thought was normal, and then you discovered it wasn’t? While I come from New Zealand, I lived almost 9 years in Asia. It was an amazing experience and I have many friends there. However, I also discovered that some of the ways I thought and behaved that I thought were normal, were cultural. It’s like the fish who doesn’t know what water is.

In the wider Western world, many of our cultural values are like this. For example, Westerners think their ideas about charity are universal — when they are not. They are instead the result of Christian influence in our history This created a remarkable culture of charity — which many of us just happen to live within, while largely cut off from our history. To stay with this example of charity, I recall a historian commenting that he had yet to find any organisation before the time of Christ that existed for purely charitable reasons. In contrast, our small nation of New Zealand, with a population of a mere 5 million, has over 27,000 charities today. Why is that? Christian values have become like the air we breathe in the West. They are our heritage. However, because we have become ignorant of our cultural history, we aren’t aware of this. We also therefore assume our values to be universal.

To list a few other examples, the same applies to our cultural ideas on personal freedom, the ending of the 19th Century slave trade, the founding of our values around the equality of races and equality of genders, education for all, healthcare for all, to the ‘invention’ of the hospital, a culture of care for wounded soldiers in war, as also to various dynamics within our systems of law and justice, understandings of the role of Government, economic systems and more.

Significantly, this influence also includes our modern view on human rights — which presumes the value of the individual ‘created in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27).

It is a specifically Christian cultural value too — noting that Muslim nations united to create their separate declaration (the Cairo Declaration) because it was clear to them that the United Nations’ declaration was ‘Christian’.

For a small piece of history, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was penned by Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the American President, with a committee she convened. As a Christian, she was delighted by the opportunity to bring certain values to the world — though with the word ‘God’ removed. Immense good has resulted across our globe as a result of unity in these values.

If something is logically true it should also be experientially real. Otherwise, it’s just a theory. This is true of the Christian faith in the profoundest of ways. It is not without reason that it is globally known as the faith of good works, love and charity. When it is applied, it works!

Video clip: A faith that works – Part 7b — 1:20mins

Reflection questions

  • What is it within the Christian faith that compels its followers to do good in the world around them?
  • From what you can see at this time, in what ways has Christianity changed the world?
  • What is one of the most amazing stories you know of Christians working to bring about good in the world?

For prayer

“Thank you, God, for giving us the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer to help them live well. The changes your followers have somehow engineered across our planet these past two millennia are simply remarkable. We are more blessed than we can see. Thank you.”

related topics

coming up in our next devotion

Day 21: A faith that works – Part 7c

In history, terrible things have been done by people who wielded power in all organisations — including the church. However, when it comes to the church, there is a distinction in that the problem is not with the church or Christian faith — but instead with those people.

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