An Empty Form of Godliness-Part 1

If it Looks Like a Camera…

A carved wooden camera.I like this wood carving. It’s shaped convincingly to look like a camera.

A clever prop master could overlay some of the wood with textured black plastic, then paint the lens glossy black, adding a ring of small white numbers and lines. With a round piece of opaque glass inserted and a fake button added, the illusion of a real SLR camera would be convincing.

Yes, with a little work, this wood carving could pass for a real camera—until you tried to use it. Even cleverly disguised, it remains only a block of wood. It lacks the key internal elements which allow a real camera to visually capture a moment in time. This would be a camera in appearance only, without the ability to function like one.

The Christian’s Function

close-up of a photographer's hands adjusting a lens while taking an image.Like a real camera, Christians are also designed for a purpose. Collectively, we are meant to mirror Jesus’ character and speak His truth to a darkening world.

Jesus refers to His people as “salt and light.” Yet too many Christians aren’t salty at all and “their light” blends in with the darkness which surrounds them.


In 2 Timothy, Paul writes about people who only have an outward “form of godliness.”

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV)

A real SLR camera on a wood table, next to a white coffee cup.When Paul mentions “power” in this passage, I don’t think he’s talking about the spiritual gifts, such as prophesy or healing. Instead, I believe he means the power of a changed life.

When we choose to follow Christ, our lives change from the inside out. Former thieves start being generous. Proud people begin to apologize. Violent individuals become gentle.

Christ has the power to transform a person’s inner character completely. A man or woman who follows Jesus as Lord will, over time, show clear evidence of a transformed life.

So why do so many Christians live empty, sinful, shame-filled lives? Why doesn’t every believer in Christ grow more merciful, compassionate, wise and bold?

Jesus died and rose so we could experience new life, so why don’t we?

Read my next post, “An Empty Form of Godliness-Part 2.” to discover a key reason why some Christians experience the richness of a transformed life and others don’t.

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