A Circumcision of the Heart
Reaching a religious mission field first of all involves showing individuals that being religious is not the same as being saved. But it is also involves showing Believers that the Christian life is not about religion.
The sad truth is many believers are saved by Grace through faith…..
And then try to live the Christian life by works
A lot of times this isn’t even a conscious thing because the focus is on outer acts such as attending church, prayer, and reading Scripture. Of course these things are wonderful, but the most important thing to God is a personal relationship walking closely with Him. This emphasis on works can make us believe that we are close to the Lord when this isn’t really true.
I can remember when the Lord taught me this in the eleventh grade. Up till this point I had accepted Christ, was actively involved in the church, and had accepted the call to preach. So I was in no way rebellious or wicked! But the whole emphasis was on just doing what the Lord wanted me to do.
One Wednesday night at youth meeting a friends brother gave a devotional from Romans 2:29. As he explained how the Jews were emphasizing outer works like physical circumcision while the Lord cared about an inner relationship, the Holy Spirit began to convict me. Suddenly I realized that Christianity is a relationship with God, not something that we do.
As an illustration its about the difference between a personal and public relationship with God. A public relationship with God is absolutely a part of Christianity with the outer works. Yet there must also be a personal (private) relationship with Him based on time spent in meditation, Bible study, and prayer. It is the personal time spent with the Lord that’s truly important to God. Unfortunately many Believers have a vibrant public relationship, but a weak personal relationship.
The answer to this problem is to start with the personal relationship, and work from there.
As a person focuses on their heart relationship with God (time spent with Him, commitment to Him) then the public relationship will become vibrant. Now the outer acts such as church memberships are forms of worship that flow out of a heart that truly loves the Lord.
The Apostle Paul is right in asking the Galatians if they are foolish enough to think faith can save them, and then works can perfect the Christian life (Galatians 3:3). The same religious works that could never save someone, could never bring Holiness.