Written by Tab Miller, Shane DeHaven, and Richard Reams
-The creators of theecholife.com
We are living in a world in which the rising generation is often disinterested, distrusting, disquieted, and disoriented. In this postmodern, pluralistic America we now live in, younger generations are being taught to resent truth claims because truth claims are seen as mere attempts to manipulate society. Many people think Christianity is merely another ploy used by some to control others. Sadly, biblical truth has been abused throughout history for this very purpose. So, how are we Christians supposed to respond, we who have a Truth to proclaim? Perhaps, instead of just telling people they should accept our truth, we should learn to experiment with our faith in order to experience our faith. We are not suggesting that we should test it to see if it works. If we are truly faithful, we most certainly believe it works, at least in theory, but we need to experiment with it to see how truly life-giving it actually is, to see how radically different and empowering it will make us if set free, and to show others that what we say is not meant to assimilate others so that they become just like us in our dogmatic thought, but is meant to be life-giving in a radical way. If we experiment, or in other words, actually live out what we believe, put it in action, we become testimonies to truth’s proper use, a gift meant to provide a radical freedom, not a tool for oppression.
The American Church’s domestication of the faith in which Christianity is indistinguishable from the rest of society in almost every actual way other than our meager protests against certain social shifts has left our testimony as a church weak. Instead of embodying a different way, we instead yell insults at our opposition and tell our children, “Don’t be like those nuts.” But, as our children are observant creatures, they look and see no real power in our words because we often don’t live them out. But, what if we did not simply protest with our words but with our actions? Don’t misunderstand. We are not suggesting an” in your face” protest where we picket or boycott or the like. These are not the actions we speak of. Instead, what if our everyday lives were a quiet testament to a different way of living? What if we truly lived out our theology in radical ways? What would our children think of our beliefs then? At the very least they could not claim they are empty words as many of the rising generation are claiming.
What if, as crazy as this might sound, we actually dabbled a bit in really living out our theology, not just in our minds, but also in all areas of our lives? Is this actually crazy idealism, or is this the actual call of discipleship? After all, a theology not lived is a theology not believed. Think about it: A faith without works is a dead faith. Therefore, a theology not lived cannot be a theology that is actually believed. This is in no way a confirmation of modern day legalism or an invitation for new age Pharisees. It is an honest reflection of the narrative of Scripture. When a rich young ruler expressed an unfailing, uncompromising love of God, Jesus simply challenged him to compare his love of money to his expressed love of God. He asked the man to experiment. In other words, He told the man to experience what he suggested he believed. The man walked away discouraged because he chose not to live out his espoused belief.
If we are not willing to live our theology out, we place our lives in the path of our own destruction. Ananias and Sapphira claimed to be faithful stewards, but their lack of right action led to death. Was this a literal death? Was this a spiritual death? A more prudent question would be, what is the correlation between our disconnected words and deeds and their impact upon our whole life? Sometimes the disconnect between our words and our actions leads to the slow demise of our spiritual life and faith. Could it not also lead to our physical ruin as well? If we claim to care for our bodies as the very dwelling place of God yet continually fill them with excess and unhealthy practices, does this not contribute to a premature demise? The person of Jesus came to make his dwelling place on this Earth so that we might become the dwelling place of God’s Spirit. You would be hard-pressed to find a church that does not share such a belief, at least in its words, but how many in the church live this out? Perhaps this sort of living would have prevented our youths’ minds from distrusting the faith because they would actually have seen it at work instead of having the thoughts, as they see it, forced on them as simple doctrine. We say that the Christian life is powerful, but we do not subject ourselves to the power. Why should others?
As this blog post illustrates, at The Echo Life we see a glaring neglect of our theology in one area particularly: health. This is a neglect the church has simply followed the American herd in perpetuating, and we believe that if the church as a whole would repent and turn from our indifference toward how we steward the body, this would be a great testimony that could help heal the pains of a distrusting world that, as of yet, cannot see the faith as having any actual power or real impact. As it stands, our words and our deeds as American Christians do not often line up. Why, then, would someone believe what we teach? We need a solution to this problem, and we suggest a little experimentation is needed. We need to see what it means to actually live out of our faith, and health can be a great starting point. Demonstration often goes further than mere explanation.
Therefore, we at The Echo Life want to use health as our platform. We want to challenge you, our reader, to experiment with your theology as it relates to the way you manage your body. In other words, we want you to experience tangibly your beliefs in action, not simply for the outward physical benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, but for the inward changes that come from purity, sufficiency, and discipline. We want you to experience this phenomenon so that the next time someone asks, “Hey, how did you get in such great shape?” you can respond, “By the grace and power of God as expressed in the Christian faith.”
We certainly know there are other areas of neglect, but this is a positive place to begin so that we might see tangible results from living out our faith. As we all learn together, our hope is that you, the reader, can move on to express your beliefs in real ways in other areas of your life from the disciplines you learn here.
This is our hope and prayer for this community of readers.
The creators of The Echo Life