The great Yogi Berra once said, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice – in practice, there is.”
The great Jesus Christ once said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I say?”
James, the brother of Jesus, would put it this way: “Be doers of the word, not just hearers.”
I think deep down we all know the things we SHOULD be doing.
If we follow Christ we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Practice humility. Give to the poor. Study God’s word. Pray without ceasing. Turn the other cheek. All that stuff.
But as G.K. Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”
We know the good we ought to do, but we don’t do it. And we know the things we shouldn’t do, but we end up doing those things (Romans 7).
That’s why we see overweight doctors who smoke and drink.
That’s why we have a big percentage of American citizens who identify as “Christian” who rarely/never attend religious services.
That’s why year after year we see obesity rates increasing, especially among younger adults and children.
We KNOW what we’re supposed to do. But we don’t do those things. We have the knowledge. We know more about diet, nutrition, exercise, and diseases than ever before. We know the dangers of sugary drinks and processed foods just like we know the damage caused by smoking.
Yet somehow we’ve been convinced that knowing is enough. “Knowledge is Power” and all that.
I know I’m as guilty as anyone. I watch some health and fitness YouTube videos, and my brain is tricked into thinking I’ve actually accomplished something. It FEELS like I’ve put in the work.
Or I listen to some Christian podcasts, and I’m tricked into thinking those are a replacement for engagement in a religious community of like-minded believers.
All the videos, podcasts, self-help books, daily devotionals, workout routines, and diet plans in the world won’t do anything for you unless you actually, ya know, do something.
There’s an ongoing debate in Christian communities reaching back centuries: What’s more important – Orthodoxy (believing/teaching the right things) or Orthopraxy (doing the right things)?
Think about the protagonist in Jesus’ most famous parable. The Samaritan who stopped to help the wounded traveler didn’t believe all the “right things” about God. But his actions were what really mattered (Lk 10).
When Jesus gave his disciples The Great Commission (Mt. 28), he told them to make disciples by 1) baptizing them and 2) teaching them. Action actually PRECEDES knowledge in this case.
If you wait to make a step of commitment to Christ until you “know enough” or until you’re “good enough,” then it will never happen.
And if you wait until you’ve done all the research to discover the perfect diet and exercise plan for yourself, then you’ll never take the first step toward a healthier lifestyle.
You know what to do. So do it. Deeper knowledge and understanding will come in time. You’ll figure things out as you go. You don’t have to have all the answers. Just do the next right thing, take the next step forward. You can keep saying “One day” or you can make this “Day One.”
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.James 4:17