The prophetic tasks of the church are to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society that lives in despair. (Walter Brueggemann)
A good friend of mine reminded me this week that we should never designate ourselves as “Christians.” This is not to say that we, who worship Christ, should deny him or any part of the gospel. On the contrary, her point was that if we are truly following Christ, our lives will speak far more profoundly than any way we can religiously self-identify.
We need more Christians like that these days – ones who are so caught up in the work of the gospel that they have completely stopped worrying about whether people know they follow Christ. Many of us have become so focused on making sure everyone knows that designation that we have forgotten what it means to actually follow God.
It is no small thing to follow Christ. It is a long road. A difficult one. One that will wind, bend, and twist until we hurl over the side rail. We will face all the normal (and some not so normal) challenges that life throws at us. Then we will have to realize that as we are grappling with those problems, so is everyone else. And it is our job to care just as much about those “others” as it is for us to take care of ourselves.
Our world is hurting and we do not need more people spewing Jesus’ name in a tirade. We need people who wash the feet of the unwanted, invite the overlooked to supper, and welcome the untouchable into our everyday lives. We need more Christians who actually follow Jesus’ example of a life lived in service to others, standing for justice and seeking reconciliation. We need people whose lives speak even before they ever say a word.
Ultimately, God will care far less about how we express our religious affiliation, and will care for more about how we actually lived our beliefs.
So yes, believe in God. Follow Christ. Just remember that you represent the God who is Love – and love is always actions that speak louder than words.