I was friends with a young woman in my second year of seminary who always talked about how caring and giving she was, how much she emulated the life of Jesus and that she never struggled with any of the teachings of the Bible. She and I had become really good friends, she became a close and trusted confident. So in March of 2007 I was preparing to fly to Wisconsin for a denominational training and being as close of a friend as she was and trusting the words that she chose to define herself I asked her to pick me up at the airport in Boston. I was on a red eye and would be getting in late that night.
She excitedly agreed to come pick me up from the airport. She swore up and down that she would be there and that she was a good Christian and this was the least she could do for a good friend. The day of my flight home was terrible. I had to wait at the airport for eight hours. In that time, I received a phone call from my mother informing me that my grandmother had passed away that morning and that I missed my opportunity to say goodbye. Then when I finally got on the airplane and we started taxing to leave, the wing broke right before my eyes. So we had to sit on the plane for hours as they went about fixing the problem. Not exactly a comforting experience.
The person next to me on the plane was a talker. Now normally, I brought a bible and some homework to do on the plane and that pretty much would scare anyone off from becoming too chatty. But not this person, she thought that it was wonderful that I was going to school to be a minister and then proceeded to spend the next six and a half hours telling me about every trauma she had suffered in life and asking me to interpret their meanings for her life.
By the time I got into the airport, I only wanted to get my luggage, get into my friend’s car and get back to my dorm room on campus. But I got off the plane only to find that she was not there and there was a blinking message on my phone. When I listened to the message, she informed me her boyfriend had decided he wanted to go to the movies and she was going to go do that instead. I then had to get my luggage, find the shuttle and take that to the blue line, then take the blue line into the center of the city and grab the last green line for the night out to Newton Centre and then I had to walk the rest of the way up the hill to my dorm dragging my luggage behind me. I was having a bad day. I cried myself to sleep that night and made some mental notes about the type of friend I actually had.
Actions speak louder than words. We can say anything we want, we can claim to believe in Christ and to live our lives by his teachings but it does not necessarily mean anything. Sometimes if you want people to feel loved, respected and valued by society, then we need to do more than just say they’re valued; we need to show them they are valued. If we want to be good Christians, then we need to do more than just pay lip service to the Bible and the teachings of our savior. We need to live into them and have our actions reflect the faith that we hold in our hearts.
What good does faith do us if the goodness in our heart does not match the works that we do? Lots of people walk around claiming to be “good Christian” men and women but their actions in life show anything but that. I would venture to say they believe they being good Christians but have never really taken the time to discover what a good Christian really looks like and what that means. I define a Christian as someone who not only believes in Christ as the savior but someone who tries to live their lives with his teachings, living their lives with him as their guidance.
Our scriptures from the 23rd Psalm are iconic scriptures. They are probably the most widely known passages in the world. Yet, many people have never put a lot of thought into their meaning. These scriptures are about an individual’s faith in God and how God has guided their every step in life building them up and comforting them and teaching them how to be God’s people. Again we see a similar view of Jesus represented in some of the lesser known passages from 1 John. Our scriptures said,
“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.”
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
Our scriptures do not call us to live our lives in judgmental ways. They do not call us to just proclaim our faith from the mountain tops. But rather they call us to love in truth and action. We are being urged to let our actions and not just our words reveal to others what it means to be good upright Christians in a world where to many someone who calls themselves a “good Christian” is seen as a Bible thumper, a hypocrite or as holier than thou.
We are called to make our lives matter. We are called as Christians to live our lives for the good of others. We are challenged to use our faith to move mountains and to change the lives of others. We are called to live into that faith that lifts us up and to help others have than same uplifting experience of the Holy. So as we go forth into this world let us use our faith to change the world one person at a time. Let’s use our passion for the Holy to have compassion and love for someone else. So reach out to another person this week in some way and share the love and compassion of our Savior with them. It just might be the type of support and care they need to turn their day around, change their week or to just take the edge off their already stressful lives. We are to share with the world the freeing grace of Christ with more than just words but through our activities and actions.
(based on 1 John 3: 6-14)