Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sharing Faith

Christ the Redeemer/Olympic Torch
How many saw the opening ceremonies of the Olympics? An extravaganza in Rio de Janeiro for a TV audience of umpteen million: music and dance; colorful marches; flags from 206 countries; nearly 11,000 athletes, including 550 from the U.S. And then, they hit the playing fields, pools, courts, and the streets.

The Olympics highlight not only the dreams for medals in 36 events. They also celebrate the values of peace, understanding, self-discipline and excellence: values that people of good will everywhere strive for. And we are touched – especially during presidential campaigns -- by true camaraderie among teammates and between competing teams.

The Wisdom literature of Ancient Israel offers generally pithy pieces of advice about how to live and behave. Think of some of the “common sense” wisdom of your grandparents/parents. 

"A penny saved is a penny earned." Washington, D.C. should heed that advice.  They've run up a national debt in the trillions. "Haste makes waste." If our nation weighed strategically the pros and cons of its involvement in foreign affairs,  perhaps we wouldn't have so many messes.

Jesus says we are to “be like servants who await their master’s return…ready to open immediately when He comes and knocks.” The author quotes Jesus: be alert; be prepared; focus on what truly matters: eternal life with God. We will be accountable for the kind of person we become with the time/talent God gives us.

Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac by Chagall
To be a disciple of Jesus is to be fundamentally a man or woman of faith, who trusts completely in God throughout all the opportunities and challenges and disappointments of life, who desires to do what God wants even though they can’t always precisely figure out what that is. It’s the desire that’s important.

Faith is, first and foremost, a gift from God whereby we begin a relationship with the triune God, a relationship which we nurture especially through prayer. It is the acceptance of God’s promises as true..and a commitment to live accordingly. It also includes the essential truths of our faith.  And just as there can be various stages in our moral development (Lawrence Kohlberg, e.g.,  proposed six), so too there can be various stages in our faith development (James Fowler, e.g., proposed six).

Many of us share our faith even though we may not realize it. Parents/grandparents share faith when they teach children the virtues of prayer, generosity, fairness, honesty and service to others; so do teachers when they develop habits of heart and skills of mind enabling students to become good citizens; so do medical professionals as they calm fearful patients; and so do citizens when they urge officials to promote human dignity and the common good.

We especially share our faith when we stand up for what is right and true and good. Every day we have so many little opportunities to do good. As the saying goes: Just do it.

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