Derek Hill, member of the leadership team for the Bible Society Group of Great Britain, has an article on the “What Christians Want To Know” website entitled “Doers of The Word: 6 Tips to Living Out Your Faith”. Hill does not imply that his six tips are the “keys to the kingdom”, but they are a good start to living out your faith. Included among those tips were four that really stood out for me. My comments follow each tip:
- Pray for those in need— Throughout the day, you have contact with any number of persons. The neighbor that calls just to talk to someone, the hasseled checkout person at the store, at work a colleague of yours that might just need a pat on the back, or, perhaps, a friend is in the hospital and needs a visit. Trust that God has placed someone on your heart and in your space that needs prayer. This is the Holy Spirit at work in you. There is always someone to pray for.
- Be an active member of your congregation— There is always a role that you can play in your church. Be part of the Church Council, sign up for flowers, assist with community meals, join the choir, volunteer your services to the Pastor or the church Secretary. You have God-given talents or skills, so use them for the good of the church!
- Study scripture— Spend time in your Bible, not just reading, but thinking, praying, meditating, and journal your thoughts and prayers. Use a commentary to assist you in your study, and, better yet, join a Bible study group and be active.
- Be involved in outreach— On this tip, Hill says this: “You don’t need to be a missionary to a Third World country. Search out the needs in your community and work to fill them. Donate your clothes to a foundation that could give them to hurting families. Donate to food pantries. Offer to take an elderly woman/man shopping for groceries once a week. The list goes on and on. Seek out those in need and help them. There is not a better way to show the love of Christ than to relieve a burden on someone who is in need.”
Those points reminded me of a group study undertaken in our congregation, beginning in 1983! We modeled our study after “The John Wesley Great Experiment” compiled by Sam Teague and reprinted by Discipleship Resources in 1980. We started by reaching out to members of our congregation and others by inviting members to become part of “Wanted:10 Brave Christians for 30 days.” We called our study “The Great Experiment” and those participating committed to practicing the following disciplines throughout the 30 days:
- Meet each week to pray together, share experiences and support one another.
- Dedicate 2 hours each week to God-directed projects, seeking ways to be useful within our community, church, or neighborhood. (Self-surrender)
- Tithe all earnings during this 30-day period. (Self-denial)
- Spend 30 minutes daily in prayer, journaling and meditation. (Self-control)
- Witness for God our experiences to others through anonymous acts of kindness, intentional conversations and other forms of outreach.
At the start, we had 25 persons, 11 men and 14 women, from two different congregations answering the call to be “Brave Christians” for 30 days. We met weekly, supported each other and practiced those disciplines throughout the month. At the end of the first 30 days, all members of the group elected to continue. After 60 days three had withdrawn. We continued to meet over the next eight years, gradually losing members until during the final month we were down to 8 of the original 25. We decided to bring the program to a close in favor of other opportunities that were opening within our congregation. All who were part of the Great Experiment agreed that practicing these disciplines had enriched their Christian walk.
Whether you follow the “Tips” or the “Disciplines” or similar commitments, the most important point is to enter into such disciplines with prayerful commitment and stick with them until the discipline(s) become second nature. From my experience with the Great Experiment, having a supportive group encouraging and holding you accountable is valuable. However you might undertake such work of the Spirit, at the very core is the Love of God.
As Christians, we must live out what we know to be true. Are we living in relationship with the Holy Spirit? We should listen to and be led by that Spirit in what we say, when we say it, and how we say it. Speak and act truth in love.
How would anyone know we are Christians? How do I show that? How are we led by the Holy Spirit is most assuredly reflected in our actions each hour of each day. If we truly believe that we should be speaking the truth in love, shouldn’t we also be acting the truth in love, in our everyday lives? If, as Christians, we must live out what we know to be true, such living out is not limited to speech, it includes every breath we take, everything we do, no matter if we consider it small and unimportant.
The good Samaritan acted out of love, despite the possibilities of consequences. The prodigal father acted out in love toward his two sons even in the face of conflict between them. First responders act out of a sense of love and loyalty even in the face of danger. The same is true with our military, protecting us as a nation. At the very core is the sense of love, however you might phrase that. At the very center of this acting out of love is the God-man who went to the cross and died for us out of a love so powerful and complicated and mysterious that we can only imagine. We are the recipients of that love.
However, you intentionally live your life as a Christian, I believe that Christ is at work through you. I hear Christ say: “…For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me.” “‘When you did it to the least of these, you were doing it to me.”
Make no mistake, they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love…
For What It’s Worth.