Friday, August 28, 2009

Signs of Our Faith

This week, I was sitting in a restaurant when I noticed the manager walking through the seating area discussing with one of his associates about the arrival of the New Fall Banners. They walked around and he pointed out where the new banners would hang. He also pointed to places where the summer banners currently hung; near the doors, above the booths, etc. The associate was having a difficult time; it seemed, of understanding what the manager was trying to do. I watched as the manager described how some of the current banners were ineffective and needed to be moved. He also showed where some empty walls would be better placement for the signs.

“If someone is sitting here, they can’t see that sign because it is behind the buffet counter. We need to move that one. And when people are standing in line over here, they should be able to look up and see it in plain sight, not a blank wall.”

Eventually, he understood and they developed a plan for where the new banners would hang.

The discussion got me thinking about how we can benefit from seasonal re-examination of our lives, especially when it comes to how we present ourselves as people of faith. Although their conversation was about marketing a restaurant, each of us communicates a message to others. Our “banner” is how we live. Do our actions reflect that we are followers of Christ? Can our faith be seen from a variety of angles? Or is it hidden so that only those who get close can see?

In Mark 7, Jesus warns us that we should not be like the hypocrites who present themselves as faithful believers in lip-service only. A hypocritical restaurant would be one where banners hung with pictures of mouthwatering items, but none of those items are on the menu. Jesus knew people who were like this - who presented themselves as godly, holy, loving, but then treated others with disdain. He described them as “dirty dishes” - like a cup that is clean on the outside, but filthy on the inside. (These types of cups come out of my dishwasher all the time. I never drink from them!)

Our outward expression of our faith (or banner, so to speak) is only as reliable and true as the inward experience of God’s love in our hearts. We can’t expect that a sign hung around the neck reading “I’m patient” will guarantee that nobody will get on that persons nerve. The virtues of following Christ, such as patience, kindness, love, charity, these arise from hearts that know the love of Christ.

Faithfulness in heart and action is a lifelong balance and ongoing journey. Olivet Church has many opportunities for you can learn, study, ponder and pray alongside other companions on this quest. The Christian walk is never done solo. Instead, in the fellowship of believers, our lives are transformed by grace and the meaning of our lives is revealed moment by moment.

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