Test: In his letters, Paul sometimes tells believers to test their faith. Here, in his letter to the Corinthians, for example, he writes, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.”  How do we, though, examine ourselves?
Shibboleth: In an episode of The West Wing, President Bartlett has to decide whether to grant asylum to some Christian refugees from China. When he meets with his aides, Josh Lyman advises him, saying, “The INS agents feel it’s not uncommon in this situation for refugees to ‘feign faith.’ How do we tell the difference between — ” Bartlett interrupts, “You know what a Shibboleth is?” Then he quotes Judges 12:6: “‘Then say Shibboleth,’ and he said, ‘Sibboleth,’ for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him.” “It was a password,” Bartlett explains. “The way the army used to distinguish true Israelites from imposters sent across the river Jordan by the enemy.”  He then decides to meet with one of the refugees.
Bartlett: There are questions as to the veracity of your claim to asylum.
Cheng-Wei: Yes, sir.
Bartlett: How did you become a Christian?
Cheng-Wei: I began attending a house church with my wife in Fujian. Eventually, I was baptized.
Bartlett: How do you practice?
Cheng-Wei: We share Bibles; we don’t have enough. We sing hymns. We hear sermons. We recite the Lord’s Prayer. We are charitable.
Bartlett: Who’s the head of your church?
Cheng-Wei: The head of our parish is an 84-year-old man named Wei-Ling. He has been beaten and imprisoned many times. The head of our church is Jesus Christ.
Bartlett: Can you name any of Jesus’s apostles? If you can’t, that’s okay. I usually can’t remember the names of my kids.
Cheng-Wei: Peter, Andrew, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Thaddeus, Simon, Judas, and James. [Pause] Mr. President, Christianity is not demonstrated through a recitation of facts. You’re seeking evidence of faith, a wholehearted acceptance of God’s promise of a better world. “For we hold that man is justified by faith alone,” is what Saint Paul said. Justified by faith alone. Faith is the true Shibboleth. 
Prayer: Lord, it’s not right works or right doctrine that saves. It’s faith alone. Therefore, we confess that we are sinners in need your great mercy. We need your saving grace to give us faith, to help us keep faith, and to work out faith in our lives. Amen.
M’Cheyne Weekend Reading: