Every day I walk a three to four-mile route through my neighborhood. It’s part prayer time and part working through the things that are on my plate to deal with (I guess that would mean it should ALL be prayer time!) I live in a semi-businessy area, so there always seems to be a lot of trash discarded along the way. I try to get a head of steam to do litter walks regularly, but this winter I have successfully talked myself out of that. It requires forward thinking—grabbing a trash bag and rubber gloves, you know, to make it more of an event. I try to start my walks out with a little prayer, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And off I go. Since I have been so good at talking myself out of picking up trash, the trash is piling up. “I should really do a litter walk,” I say to myself, as I walk on past the trash. Ironic, isn’t it? The servant may have been listening but not exactly heeding! The other day, the still, small voice of God persisted. “Is today a good day to tidy up the ‘hood?” “No, I don’t have a bag. Next time.” Then I remembered what I’d read just that morning about faith taking shape as love. “Ok, Ok,” I relented and went back to fetch the needed supplies.
Our faith needs to have legs…and hands, too, really. It isn’t enough to just believe in something or even profess something. But for our faith to really manifest in the world it needs to result in action. My faith tells me that creation is a sacred gift from God. My neighborhood is creation all around me. I can show my love for it by the simple act of cleaning up trash. It seems so easy, but it is still hard to do. If I am going to pray “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” I need to be prepared to act as well as just listen. The beckoning is a quiet whisper, I can easily miss it in the clamber of my own agenda. “Speak louder Lord, your servant just wants to walk!”
There are so many ways our faith can lead to action. If we have faith that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, we can practice that aspect of our faith by loving others. Even those we disagree with—especially those we disagree with—because we have faith in the God who created them. Our faith in the fact that God creates us all can be revealed through our actions for social justice and putting the needs of others first. Again, simple yet very hard to do. It is something to work toward, however. Our faith isn’t something we can keep on a shelf and admire occasionally. Our faith needs to be pulled out and worked into a lather of loving response.
Let’s spend some time this weekend thinking and praying about how our faith can be made vibrant and visible in our world. Maybe not the WHOLE world, but maybe just our neighborhood or little corner of the world? How can we put faith in action among our family and friends? Or among strangers we encounter? Jesus told many of those he healed that it was their own faith that healed them. Can our faith heal and help others? It can if we express it as love. Our faith is a verb, really. We DO faith, not just have faith. With God’s help, our faith can bring love to the world, one neighborhood at a time.
Speak Lord, your servants really need to hear your still, small voice this day. Amid the noise of our own agendas and to-do lists, we want to put our faith in you into action. Guide our efforts, give us strength and compassion to do more than just listen and hear. Give our faith feet and hands. Help us express our faith AS love—for you and for others. Amen.
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Again Heidi, I appreciated your posting here. I will shortly be reading Brian McLaren’s latest book you referred to–FAITH AFTER DOUBT. I too these days find myself wondering “how our faith can be made more vibrant and visible in the world.” After reading Kendi’s book HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST, I am wondering about that in terms of racism. I think Drew Hart’s latest book WHO WILL BE A WITNESS? (Subtitle-“Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance”) might be helpful here. I especially like your sentence, “We DO faith not just have faith.” You are challenging me to give that some serious thought these days.
This is all so true & beautiful. Thank you, Heidi.