Exercising My Faith: A New Year’s Resolution
Today I received a large envelope in the mail addressed to my husband and myself from someone neither one of us knows. Within it was a page-long, typed letter from a woman in our city who had seen our story on the news. The woman also included two Watchtower pamphlets about grief with her letter and some bible verses that she said were always helpful to her. While I differ in my scriptural interpretation from the Jehova’s Witnesses, I found myself in complete awe of this woman. In her letter, she gave her heartfelt condolences, much along the lines of other messages and cards we’ve received from people we know, but she took it a step further - she witnessed to us.
Our story ran on four local news channels in a viewing area of approximately 2 million people. How many mainstream Christians saw or heard our story? How many pastors and church leaders? I would guess that living in the Bible Belt it was probably a few thousand at the least. How many took the effort to find us, reach out to us and tell us about God’s love and the possibility of eternal life? Not one.
We’ve received cards, flowers, meals, prayers, and donations from so many people and those things are appreciated so much. But, something about this woman’s willingness to put herself and her faith out there and take a chance to tell us about God’s love made me feel so loved, and yet also humbled me more than any other act of kindness we've received.
All this is leading up to me writing something that might read abrasively to some of you. The Christian body, myself most definitely included, as a whole is lazy. And by “lazy” I don’t mean we don’t work or accomplish things, I mean we are lazy in our faith, we are lazy when it comes to telling people about Christ, and we are lazy in offering love and compassion. We tend to become so wrapped up in ourselves, our immediate families, our church families, our jobs, and our home lives that we often fail to truly tap into our faith and show God’s love to the world around us.
Most people who have entered a church and any point in their lives can recite “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” But what about John 15:12, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you?”
It’s not enough to like something on social media. It’s not enough to say “I’m praying for you.” Though these things are all well and good, “faith without works is dead.” We must love one another as Christ loves us - which means going above and beyond the niceties and getting into the uncomfortable.
This post may give the impression that I am angry. I’m not angry. I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed in the Church, I am disappointed in humanity, and I am disappointed in myself. Christ bore a cross for us, he bore the weight of all of our sins, and none of us deserve it. Why is it so hard for us to love others to the point where we take on even a small piece of their burdens? Why is it so hard for us to make sure that anyone who crosses our paths know that they are not only loved by us but by a God who has the ability to love beyond human understanding? We must do better. Just like the woman who wrote me that letter, we must put ourselves and our faith out there and show love for the entire world, not just for those in our immediate circles.
To truly love like Christ we must stop being judgemental, we must stop being selfish, and we must stop being fearful, for these things separate us from a world that desperately needs all of the love and compassion that it can get. We must start valuing every single person as a child of God and loving them as such; even going to the point of inconveniencing ourselves at times, because this is how we start loving each other as we should and truly become more Christlike.
I’m not sure where I’m going to start myself and I don’t think it will be easy, but I know that my resolution to exercise more now also applies to my faith and to my compassion.
I challenge all ye of any amount of faith to add it to your resolutions as well.