What Does It Mean To Be A Christian?
You know, when I read these passages in Romans and reflect on Paul's angst about the Israelites, I cannot help but draw parallels with the vast majority of the "Christian" population today. We have fallen into the same rut that the Israelites had back in the day. They were zealous, Paul says in verse 2, but because they did not know God, their zeal was on following the law to gain righteousness even after the Messiah had come to perfect the law.
Was it that the Israelites did not know? No. Verses 18 and 19 make it clear that they were told the good news but they refused to understand it. They refused to believe in it. They held on to what they believed would lead them on to salvation. Is it that we do not know the good news? No, we do. If any of us don't, let us go back to the Bible, read the gospels and pray for wisdom to understand it. Verse 10 emphasizes on believing in the heart and then professing by the mouth. Let us remember that professing by the mouth alone does not bring us salvation. Reciting the Nicene creed without truly believing in it and meaning what we say, has no place in the story of our salvation.
I am sorry if I sound preachy, but I feel compelled to say this. I was that person who reveled in the glory of the worship order and the liturgy, the beautiful chants and tunes, who dutifully stood up with reverence for the gospel reading and the Nicene creed, who bowed their head at all the appointed times in the worship order, without really understanding any of it or more importantly, meaning it/believing in it from the depths of my heart. It is easy to go about our lives on weekdays and attend church on Sundays and think that we are in right standing with God. I don't deny that many, many of those who do this are in right standing with God. But there might be at least a handful who do it because that's what they grew up seeing, because the songs and chants in the liturgy are so well known to them that they could recite them in their sleep; in short, they may be following a tradition that they ascribe a lot of value to.
God wants us to truly know him. He wants us to genuinely understand his love, his will, and his purpose for mankind. He wants us to ponder about the magnitude of his love. He wants us to use all the knowledge and wisdom we have gained from these activities, to truly believe in our hearts that he is God. That he has risen from the dead and that he is God. And then, he wants us to profess our faith. He wants us to take the good news to others. Verse 15 says "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! " How beautiful indeed! Because they took the trouble, the time and the courage to go out into a hostile world and preach the good news of the Saviour!