When you visit the offices of your lawyer, dentist or doctor, you will see plaques and illuminated certificates proudly displayed, which draw attention to the fact that they are part of a ‘practice’. The name is a bit misleading, because it suggests your professionals operate on a ‘work in progress’ basis and that is not strictly true. They are fully qualified.
As a broadly related example, I was having lunch with some family recently, when a Christian man known to me, but unknown to the others, met us, and then started a conversation with the words: “I don’t know if you are practicing Christians” and then proceeded to tell his own church story. It wasn’t really helpful in that situation, and my family were gracious by not answering, but the incident did make me think about the way we ‘practice’ our faith.
I hope none of us are arrogant enough to think we have it made, or have arrived, as far as our faith life on earth is concerned, so then it is true that we are involved in a ‘practice’ of sorts as we live out our faith in a world which is at odds with our beliefs. We must be careful how we do that, as the Apostle Paul tells us to do it in fear and trembling. We are being watched, and people can be attracted to, or put off, by our words and lifestyle. What a responsibility we have!
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12,13 NIV