Whenever we talk about faith, our ideas usually center around beliefs. We typically judge the validity of a person’s faith on their ascent to specific beliefs or doctrines. We judge the depth of their faith by how confidently they can communicate complex ideas of faith. Whether we admit to it or not, we make issues of spirituality all about mental activity and not about practical activity.
The terms that are most often used to qualify us for Christianity–“ask Jesus into your heart,” “believe in Jesus,” “accept Jesus”–refer solidly to something that we agree to on the inside, but nothing we do on the outside. For most of us, Christian faith is personal, private, and separate from action. We unconsciously live out a form of dualism, believing that God is concerned with our soul, our spirit, and our inner life, but not concerned with the physical world (which we often portray at essentially corrupt).
If we look closely at Scripture, God does not make this distinction between inner life and outer life. He is not more concerned with belief than with practical action. In fact, God’s commands and directives to His people are nearly all about doing, not thinking.
There are many things that can be said about the way action correlates with belief. What it boils down to is this–What you do is more import than what you believe. The enemies of God’s Kingdom are perfectly satisfied to have us sit around discussing (or fighting about) our beliefs. Those beliefs are only useful when they lead to action.
I believe wholeheartedly that a person can have every bit of his doctrine line up with the truth, but be or no use to God (or his neighbors). I also believe that a person can have erroneous beliefs, but still be living in obedience to God, because he is taking action to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.
Whenever we have long discussions about belief, we need to then ask the question, “Now what are we going to do about it?”
What we do is more important than what we believe.