One of the major emphases of the Bible is this: faith and love LOOK like something.
Faith and love are not mere abstract constructs with which the philosophers can play. We live in a concrete world not the world of illusion that eastern religions teach or the world of fantasy that secularists teach. Because we live in world that has cause and effect, root and fruit, and where ideas have concrete consequences faith and love look like something.
1 John 3:16 tells the Christian that faith and love looks like this, "...we know love, because Christ laid down His life for us so we ought to lay down our lives for one another."
True faith and love look like a cross. True faith and love look like voluntary sacrifice. True faith and love look like the Gospel applied in the day to day events of our lives. True faith and love are a moral imperative ("ought") that has been incarnated for us. True faith and love are the point of the Gospel. Not mere feelings, or merely emoting something, but giving visible evidence of the Gospel in our lives.
Perhaps that is why our Lord says that the ONE measure of objective judgment that any non-christian can rightfully use to judge the profession of faith of any Christian is this, "they shall know you by your love for one another."
Read the story below of one Rwandan pastor, Havugimana Israel, who "laid down his life" for others.
A Sure Sign That Your Religion Is Real
by Gladys Villnow
Reprinted by permission from www.wisdomsedge.com.
Every Sunday at Eden Chapel in Cambridge, England, we listen to sermons that are powerful and practical. The word of God is revered and taught without compromise. We are challenged and changed by the power of God's truth. I have always known the importance of growing spiritually, but this past Sunday, that took on a whole new meaning.
You see, we had a guest speaker from Rwanda. His name is Phocas Ngendehayo. He is the General Secretary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES). Their mission is to reach university students for Christ, who will then go out and impact their world. He brought us a message of the importance of being a disciple of Christ instead of being religious.
He explained that Rwanda has a population where 90% of the people claim to be Christians. Yet, these were the very people who were involved in the slaughter of the Tutsis. The conflicts between the two ethnic groups of Hutu and Tutsi goes back many years. However, in April 1994, this erupted into the extermination of the Tutsis group. So-called Christians and outright unbelievers gathered in groups and systematically went from village to village killing the Tutsis.
Frightened people ran to the safety of their parishes, where their pastors and priests gave them shelter. However, these men, at times, would then report them to the Hutus. The Hutus would then throw a bomb into the church and kill the entire group.
Phocas spoke of a cross that stood on a hill of all the bodies that were slaughter. Women were raped then killed, men were tortured, and pregnant women along with children were slaughtered. The irony is that the death squad would often enter villages singing Christian songs and they refused to kill on the Sabbath day, because it was the Lord's Day.
As the genocide unfolded over the next 100 days, 1,117,000 people were killed. Phocas compared it to 9-11, where 3,000 people were killed. They suffered 10,000 a day for 100 days. The tragedy of New York drew world outrage and yet the world remained silent for Rwanda. This genocide should jar our consciences to recall the six million Jews that perished in World War II. At that time, the nations vowed that it would never happen again. And yet it did.
Amid the stories of betrayal and confusion. Many pastors stood firm in their faith and hid and protected friends that were Tutsis. One such man was, Havugimana Israel. He courageously denounced the killings and begged for the violence to stop. He was a Hutu and, therefore, in no danger. But he refused to remain silent. Therefore, he also, was killed. On his tombstone the words. "He lived what he preached" are engraved in stone. And now, even though dead, he still speaks.
Phocas explained how God is allowing reconciliation to take place. However, the nation has a huge population of traumatized people who witnessed tremendous atrocities. Their scars are not physical, but real just the same. The Christians question how a God of love could have allowed such slaughter. Many are fleeing to Islam, who they now see as a religion of peace. In the midst of this, God is doing a work by raising up a Christian movement among universities students. These students want desperately to be used by God as healing agents in a land that is still in much emotional and spiritual confusion.
Phocas speaks with a radiant face and an ardent love for the Lord and his heart is filled with hope for the future. Now a new army marches through the streets of Rwanda bringing a message of life instead of death.
Religious Christianity is not only worthless but dangerous. Jesus scorned the religious and said their judgment would be worse than Sodom. False religion tears down. But a real relationship with Christ should focus us on building relationships and people – not destroying them.
On a personal note: My husband Don and I had the honor of having Phocas, his wife Jackie, and their 3 children, over for dinner in our home. He captivated us with his stories of the struggles of his countrymen. More than that, he is an example of a man on fire for God. He has sweet obedient children and a humble wife. These are servants of God that have purposed to impact the world for Christ. God is raising up a generation with the spirit of Havugimana Israel.