The man who believes in the American ideal gives his sons to it. The Christian who believes in the necessity of Salvation as the only cure for sin, bears witness to it. The woman who knows that holiness honors God and promotes life pursues it with exuberant passion.
These are succinct statements that affirm for us that our actions define our ideology more accurately than do our philosophical statements. Please permit me to explain. We can admire a particular philosophy and not live it. Our philosophy even directs our ideology but not vice-versa. Our philosophy may shift, but our ideology is certain and directs our practice. Here is how one writer spoke of the difference:
There are very fundamental differences between philosophy and ideology. Ideology refers to a set of beliefs, doctrines that back a certain social institution or a particular organization. Philosophy refers to looking at life in a pragmatic manner and attempting to understand why life is as it is and the principles governing behind it.
So our ideology determines our actions. A problem occurs when we don’t understand the difference. We think “philosophically” about something and ASSUME we believe it, but act contrary to it. The question is “why?”
I am presently reading for an upcoming assignment. In my reading I have recognized that sometimes OUTSIDE forces affect our actions. (i.e. a robber forces you to give him money that you would not choose to give otherwise). Also, a conflicting nature can affect you (i.e. the sin nature of man warring against the desires of the soul (See Romans 7:14ff). In absence of these circumstance, our actions give indication as to our underlying ideology. Furthermore, when we act contrary to our ideology and recognize those actions as rising from sin or external influences, we struggle against them to return to an action consistent with our ideology.
So, back to my initial statements and the application. Can you really say that you are thankful for and believe in the American ideal without participating in the election process? If you do not vote, do you truly hold that the “representative democracy” form of Government is greater than a monarchy?
A Christian who does not bear witness of Christ (an unimpeachable command) cannot truly argue that He holds to the doctrine of sin and the sovereignty of God…unless he will also admit that he is being swayed by a sin nature or outside influence that wars against his compliance with the Lord’s command. To say, “I do not have to witness” is a far different statement than, “I am commanded to share my faith but I am plagued by my sins of pride and self-interest or by fear of persecution.” The former statement indicates an errant ideology while the latter indicates an accurate ideology but a confliction within the person.
In either case, the thoughts of Emerson ring true, “What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.”
Today, examine what you do. Let it be the determiner of what you truly hold as an ideology. Ask, “Am I generous,” and answer by looking at your checkbook to see where you spend your money. Ask, “Do I value prayer,” and answer by looking to see how often you actually pray. Ask, “Do I truly believe in compassion,” and answer by looking to see where you have acted compassionately toward your neighbor and those less fortunate. As you do, you’ll understand your true ideology.