Most of the time I have three things on my mind as I go through life, love God, love others as I love myself, and don’t be a stumbling block. I saw a meme once that said ‘you’re the only bible someone will read’, so I have to be sure I am not causing any cognitive dissonance. It is not about me deciding to wear a cross around my neck, or post pretty pictures with scripture on my Facebook. No, it is about seeing the then and now and asking themselves what is different. It should be evident in one’s life itself.
It has happened, too. One person remarking at the difference between the years before I was married, after the accident, and now. I met with some old friends that I had not seen in a year or more, where before I was comfortable, now I felt a bit out of place. Not because they snubbed me; it is that I have a different nature inside me now. We had a new guy start working at the plant, one of many that I have trained lately, and he asked what I did while I was not at work. I listed my weekend schedule, whereas before it was JKD and church with the rest of the time at home, now it is helping others in various ministries. Now he keeps mentioning wanting to visit, so I gave him a card with the church’s schedule on it.
I watched guests come back after visiting during a bridge event at the church; if I recognize them, I try to welcome them back. The ‘don’t talk to me bubble’ that was up after the accident seems to have popped, with a guy walking up to me to talk about comics in reference to my Captain America shirt. One of the Celebrate Recovery people helped our cleaning team one Sunday to give us a little bit of a break. It is not a solo effort; he was also representing Jesus that day.
After working at the Canvas Community one Saturday, on the ride back to church, M.H was fielding questions about the lives of a few of the homeless and poor we serve. Hearing about their struggles, lives, and so forth, I thought to myself “I didn’t know that”, because I’m not as involved in that area of their lives. For the part a few of us played was a poor expression of feeding the 5,000, meeting a necessary physical need. She, among others, were meeting spiritual and relational needs, showing Jesus in their way. It can be as a team effort, or making a small difference in a single life, like giving a guy on the side of the road $5. He did not earn or deserve it; it was an act of grace, like the unmerited favor others have shown me countless times.
I like the letter written by James in the New Testament. I reference it a lot, and this speaks to it well from the first chapter:
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1: 19-27
Then I saw a meme that said you do not need a religion if you are a good person. It is right; we have that placed inside us as the conscience reflecting a small part of the transcendental morality of what we should do. I could have argued, however it is not about religion; it is about a relationship with God through Jesus. After salvation, he works through us, making it easier to do good. We do have a tug-of-war inside between what we want to do and what we should do. I questioned myself about giving the guy the 5$ bill; Paul recognized it in his letter to the Romans.
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7: 21-25
It is a process, a spiritual growth to be more Christ-like. We as Christians are to be ambassadors for His kingdom, and we muck it up sometimes. We also have to account for the fact that we are imperfect and human, and in that is freedom. To know where your cracks are, acknowledge the flaws, and preserver without pretense. It is not me alone in the trenches, I do not have to shine my dull light, but let His light shine through me.