We sometimes act a certain way because someone is watching. In the presence of a teacher, we might sit up straight and pay attention. In the presence of a parent, we might stop picking on a sibling.
The same could be true with our faith. It is easier to act like a Christian when someone you consider to be a spiritual mentor is watching.
In the letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. . .” (Philippians 2:12, ESV) The Philippians have obeyed the gospel message about Jesus. They were to continue living by faith in Jesus, following the commands of God, whether Paul was with them or not. Living by faith should not only be done when seen by some kind of spiritual leader in your life.
The same is true for us: Our obedience and lifestyle of faith is based upon Jesus, not some other person.
Notice how v.12 says work out your own salvation. Own your faith. You can’t borrow it. The Philippians weren’t made holy by Paul; they were only made holy by Christ when they responded to Him for salvation. If their faith was authentic, then they should continue to work out their salvation, to let it take its effect in their lives.
Some people try to act better in the presence of certain people, but genuine faith is not a show. Paul was telling the Philippians to live a life committed to Jesus whether or not he was with them.
Some will try to take the title of Christian because they were born in America or because their grandmother was a godly lady and took them to church. But you can’t borrow someone else’s faith. You must make it your own by repenting of your sin and believing in Jesus Christ.
Faith is not dependent on a spiritual leader. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ.