Every area of our lives can be divided into what we preach and what we practice. Whether we’re talking about our health, our parenting, or our walk with God, our belief system is divided into what we know and what we do.
In Christianity these concepts are sometimes called orthodoxy and orthopraxy. These are some of the oldest words the church has used to talk about this concept, but their meaning is pretty simple.
(def.) what we believe about Jesus and how he wants us to live our lives
(def.) the actions that are rooted in our beliefs
As believers, we talk a lot about orthodoxy. What do we believe? We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for our sins, that he rose again, and that he’s returning for his church. Those are all good things, and I believe them! But if we stop there, we’ve missed something.
Orthopraxy is something we don’t talk about nearly as much. (You might have heard the word “orthodox” before, but orthopraxy is probably new to most of us.) When our actions and our beliefs don’t line up, it causes a deep conflict inside of us. But it happens every day. We commonly let our circumstances and culture drive our actions, rather than letting our beliefs drive our actions.
Our orthodoxy should lead us to a right way of life. If it doesn’t, there’s a flaw in our system. Or as James says, “…faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20)
If we have faith in the right things, but it doesn’t lead us to do the right things, then we’ve missed something major. True belief leads to action. God is interested in how we live our lives. At the end of it all, we won’t just give an account for what we believed in, but what we did about it.
We all find ourselves in a different place in this journey today.
Maybe you’re not sure where you stand in your beliefs? Do you have an orthodoxy? Do you believe the Bible? You might have good idea, but if you don’t have an orthodoxy based in truth, you aren’t going to get where you want to go.
If you do have an orthodoxy, are you holding right doctrine with right practice? Are your beliefs shaping you into a person who looks more like Jesus?
Good doctrine leads us closer to Jesus. It causes us to move toward the fruit of the Spirit. If we are people who act on solid, Biblical orthodoxy, we will be people of love. If our belief in the Word is solid, we will be more patient, more kind, more joyful, and more peaceful. If our lives are not moving in that direction, either we aren’t believing the truth of God’s Word, or we’re not letting it change us.
The Word of God is meant to be alive and active within us. If it’s not, we will miss the full potential we were created for, and the lost and broken world will not see Jesus in us. As you go out into a broken world that needs Jesus, let your belief in him make you a light in the darkness.