Why do so many Christians seem to act like everyone else in the world? For people who claim to have been “born again” their spiritual lives seem unremarkable. Is this all there is to the Christian life or have we missed something?
I recently heard my pastor mention in a sermon the idea of “deism.” Deism is the belief that there is a God and He did, in fact, create the world. But deists believe God wound up the world like a clock and set it spinning. He now lets the events of humanity unwind without divine interference. God is real, but He is removed.
Christianity denies deism. Far from remaining distant from His creation, God Himself becomes a human being and enters into creation. He puts on flesh, lives a perfect life, and takes the punishment for sin in our place so that anyone who believes in Him will dwell with Him forever in Heaven. When God became a human man they called His name, Immanuel, “God with us.” The God of the Bible is not a detached observer, He participaties in and rules over the world.
The Implications of Deism
Christians operating under the deist framework fail to live transformed lives. Our hearts are not aware of the constant, dynamic presence of God in us and near us. We compartmentalize Christianity so it becomes something we do on Sunday, maybe on Wednesdays, and for a few minutes when we read the Bible on our own. These habits are useful, but there is little emphasis on making disciples or growing as a Christian outside of these typical events. So the highest form of Christianity becomes how regularly you attend church programs, not how much you love God and love others.
The main goal of discipleship, on the other hand, is being and making disciples. A disciple is a follower of Christ who spends the rest of his or her life learning from the Savior and teaching others to do the same. In order on order to make disciples we must first be disciples. Other Christians must be able to speak God’s truth into our lives. This type of relationship only comes with trust and intimacy which means we must share life together with other believers. Discipleship also means that we are passing on what we learn to others. So we have to open our lives to unbelievers–even our flaws and failures–in order to teach them what it looks like to follow Jesus.
Discipleship as the Solution
If we are being disciples and if we are discipling others by sharing life together, then we cannot reduce Christianity to Sundays and other special occasions. Discipleship is the solution to deism because as we learn and teach others about Christ we see that Christ is involved in every area of our lives. There is nothing we think, say, or do that is removed from either being a disciple or making disciples. Therefore, we recognize Christ’s influence in every area of life.
It is the daily, everyday, commonplace life of discipleship that God is intimately involved in. His disciples cannot believe He is disinterested or removed from this world. Just before His crucifixion, Jesus promised His followers His presence. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16). As the Father sent the Son to be in the world for a time, so now He sends the Holy Spirit–intimately present in our hearts–who empowers us to be and make disciples.
Do you see signs of deism in Christianity today? How do you remind yourself of God’s constant, intimate presence in your life?