Over the years we have emphasized teaching on practical Christian living in our church community, but always with an aim to connect the practical with the biblical principles in view. This is why our church magazine is named Credenda (things to be believed) Agenda (things to be done). The believing must come first, but it must be followed by the doing.
Simply believing is not enough; we must be doing, working out what we believe by how we live. My husband grew up in a family that was strong on practical teaching, and he will readily credit his parents with much of what he knows about living Christianly. Ephesians is one of his favorite books, and I have heard him say many times that the first three books in Ephesians have no imperative statements: they are all declarative statements. The last three books are full of imperatives or commands: do this, don’t do that.
When Christians learn much practical Christian teaching over many years (the Agenda), the danger always exists to drift away from the Credenda part. And after awhile we might even forget the principle behind the action. This can happen when parents are strong on the practical part with their kids, but forget to lay the foundation of doctrine first.
For example, take Christmas. The reason our culture celebrates Christmas is because Jesus was born, and something of that magnitude requires a culture-wide celebration. You have probably read stories about when and why Christians began bringing trees into the house, who first put lights on the tree to signify Jesus as the Light of the World, and so forth. But many people in our culture have little or no idea really why we celebrate Christmas. They still do it, but they have lost the first principle behind it.
The same may be true of Sunday worship. Christians worship on the first day of the week because Jesus rose from the dead and remade everything on the first day of the week. Many other Christian practices can fall into this category. We started a Christian school for our children so that we could obey the commandment to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We believed then (and still do) that unbelievers should not be enculturating our children with their secular beliefs, so we did not put them in the state-run schools. But I think some parents can forget the point of a Christian education, not because they are evil parents, but simply because it has become routine.The longer you drift away from first principles, the weaker the practice becomes until it falls away all together.
As we live as Christians, we must stay connected to our Head, remembering that our lives are centered around Him and His infallible Word; we worship our Triune God with all of our lives. This results in practical Christian living that is vibrant and alive, not dead works or empty rituals.
So read those books (or blogs!) that give you practical tips on childrearing or marriage or singleness or Christian education or any number of other things. We all need help in many ways. This is why God established the offices of pastors and teachers and why he told older women to help out the younger ones, teaching them how to live in their homes in practical ways that honor and glorify God.Â But never forget the connection. Never forget to read and reread those first three books of Ephesians that lay out so clearly what we are to believe before you go on to the last three books that tell you how to live.