“Your life may be the only Bible that someone else reads.” For me that’s a mighty intimidating statement, yet in today’s world, it carries an element of truth. Society has great expectations of those of us who are identified as Christians. They want us to live good lives. They want us to be caring. They want to set us apart as special. Our faith is supposed to have transformed us, to have made a difference in how we live. When we fail to live up to those expectations, society labels us hypocrites.
As Christians, we know we’re not perfect. We try to do what we think God expects of us. We know we often fail. Like everyone, we live busy lives. Things overwhelm us. There are people that we find easy to love, but also people we wish we had never met. We know living our faith isn’t easy.
When I’m faced with someone whose sharp words have made deep gashes in my soul, I don’t want to offer forgiveness. When I hear about terrorists planting yet another bomb, or rival gangs killing an innocent bystander, I feel anger and disgust. I don’t want to see these perpetrators of violence as God’s beloved children.
When we read the Bible carefully, we learn that the Biblical characters were just like us. They, too made mistakes. At times, they were accepting and caring. At times, they deliberately weren’t. Most of the time, they knew that God was with them, pushing, prodding, trying to lead them.
Saying the words, “Lord, I believe” is not enough. Being a Christian means hearing the Word and being transformed by it. Transformation is a slow process. We often wobble back and forth between God’s way and our way. On our best days, with God’s help, we do become God’s Word for others. We truly are people of the Book.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)