Friday, July 14, 2017

Quiet Lives of Faith

Those who are called to preach the Cross must also be willing to carry it. That does not mean, however, that only pastors are called to bear the Cross; Jesus says we all are, every believer. It's part of what it means to follow Him. But in a world that is so starkly divided between secular and sacred, most of us have forgotten what that means. 

Instead of living quiet lives of faith, we're living lives of quiet faith. And that's not at all what Jesus called us to.

A quiet life of faith bears its Cross constantly, but so naturally that it's unobtrusive. Passioned faith is a constant companion, but it is not a siren or a flashing light. There's nothing to draw attention to the Cross of the quiet faithful except for the grace and dignity with which they bear it. It's the way that love poured out of Jesus on the road to Golgotha, stumbling under the weight of the heavy burden, but all eyes were on Him. Not on the Cross. 

No one was looking at the burden He was carrying. No one was looking at the giant piece of wood. They were looking at the blood trickling down His face, the tears mixed with sweat as He set His eyes on Calvary. They were looking at the quiet way that He was carrying Himself - and His Cross - and the way that it pointed to nothing else but love. Pure, undefeatable, indefatigable love. 

That's not the Cross that most of us carry. It's not the way we carry it. Instead of bearing our Cross on our shoulders, we bury it in our closets, going in for a visit whenever we have time or whenever we need a touch of the sacred or whenever it seems pertinent to be a person of faith. We keep our Crosses tucked away, so that no one should see us carrying them. So that no one should see us burdened by a living Love. Were it not for our occasional mention of it, no one would know we even had a Cross.

That's what I'm talking about when I talk about a life of quiet faith. Most of us are living with our Crosses cleanly tucked away so that when and if the world sees them, it's not faith; it's fashion. We don't speak dignity and grace in the way that we carry them, and we certainly don't speak love.

It would be as if those on the streets of Jerusalem that morning saw nothing but the beam of wood. It would be ask if Christ need not have been there at all, as if the blood and sweat and tears gave no depth, no emphasis, no meaning to the wood. Ah, there it is. That terrible, terrible cross.... What a horrible thing that is. What a terrible death. What a violent punishment. 

These thoughts require no Christ. They require no blood. They require no tears, no sweat. No dignity, no grace. They just are. 

And that's what the world sees of our quiet faith - it requires nothing. It just is.

No wonder they're not convinced.

What we need is to be a people of God who are unashamed to carry our Crosses, in public and everything. Who don't buy into the world's division between secular and sacred because all life is God's grace and every single moment is a breath of faith for those of us living it. This isn't some fashion accessory, something we pull out of the closet because it happens to go with our outfit. No, this is a calling, the burden of faith. And this world needs to see us carrying it, not as a billboard or a siren or a statement, but quietly, as an act of love and obedience, with dignity and grace.

This is true faith. 

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