Not simply 'claiming the name of Christ'.
When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, 'Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' And to the centurion Jesus said, 'Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.' And the servant was healed in that hour.
- Matthew 8, 10-13 New Revised Standard Version.
Ideally in society, everyone is in the kind of place they deserve to be in. Our most able and most virtuous people occupy the places of greatest authority and influence; and the least able and least virtuous wield very little power.
And ideally in the church, those who have clear and active faith form the core membership and the leadership; and those who are really just out for themselves are at the margins or outside the church's life altogether.
Sometimes those without an explicit Christian faith, those outside the New Testament people of God, put us to shame with their attitudes. Can a Muslim, a pagan, an ardent atheist, show us aspects of godly and faithful behaviour that we have lost sight of?
In a post-Christendom world, with faith an empty habit for many who would claim the name of Christ, nothing is more likely. It was so in Jesus' day as well.
Decide who among your friends and acquaintances is the most sceptical or negative about the Christian faith. Think about their attitudes and character, and take note of some way they exemplify the character of God better than you do, or show more faith than you do. Thank them for it and determine to learn from their example.
Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief. Help me to live by faith, learning to trust you more and more. And give me grace to learn that faith and trust from anyone who exhibits it, whether or not they acknowledge you as the source of all goodness.
Today's contributor is Just Living, a fresh expression of church in Devon devoted to the Christian pursuit of justice for the poor and closely linked to Christian Aid.
Published on 21 August 2019