Walking Our Faith: This is how we create a better world each day
September 1, 2017
We sat knitting, glancing up from time to time to gaze at the stark beauty of the Ten Mile Range, in the background Max Richter's "Blue Notebooks" played. From time to time there were snippets of conversation, but mostly we enjoyed companionable silence.
The afternoon visit with my friend Pat reminded me of the verses I'd read that morning from Romans 12:9-21, depending on the Bible translation these verses are called Love in Action or Rules of Christian Living. I think of them as a guide hospitality and a good life:
Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
When there’s a national disaster, we see the best in ourselves. Can we experience that goodness in each other day to day?
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Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Feed your enemy.
So much of our lives are spent rushing from one thing to another, the meeting at work, the doctor's appointment, the child picked up from practice, the sit-down dinner traded for a hasty take-out eaten in front of a TV.
We worry about bills that arrive when our checking account is dwindling. We watch the news and wonder if the next missile won't be a test but the start of something very dangerous. We live our lives within our tribes aware of our standing, whether it is based on meritocracy or decided by someone else's perception of where we belong.
We forget what silence sounds like, what peace feels like, what love tastes like. We are so busy, busy, busy.
I believe hospitality is a good place to start when our lives become so frantic that our rush to attend to the next pressing thing causes us to forget the longer view of our common humanity. The vision that Jesus intended us to have when he commanded that we love God, and love our brother as our self.
We've seen that commandment on full view from Texas as a line of trucks pulling all manner of personal watercraft owned by private citizens from as near as one county west, to New York, and Maine, men and women who came to help, not because they knew anyone affected, but because they knew they were needed.
When there's a national disaster, we see the best in ourselves. Can we experience that goodness in each other day to day?
Yes! We can create holiness within our ordinary lives. Our love for God can be reflected in how we treat ourselves and each other each day. Our faith can be evident in daily acts of grace.
"Serve the Lord, rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Practice hospitality.": We serve God through our hospitality ("the friendly treatment of guests or strangers"). I believe another form of hospitality is when we open our hearts to God. When I spend even five minutes in prayer when I rise or before I go to sleep thanking God for the good in my life, presenting my needs, asking for patience as I seek solutions, my day is easier, my sleep is sounder. But most of all, when I sit in silent gratitude in God's holy presence, I find peace in my soul.
"Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not pretend to be wiser than you are. Try to live peaceably with one another." Too often we compare our lives with others. This is especially true with those closest to us: our family, our social circle, our faith community. These comparisons lead to stress and alienation. Instead, let's look for common ground: our love for God and one another. When we find peace with who and where we are, we can offer compassion and understanding to others.
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Let's practice hospitality even when we don't like those we serve. Let's focus on our common humanity and strive to let the light of God's love shine through us. Because we know, the light overcomes the darkness.
The tapestry of our faith is woven with sturdy threads of daily friendship, kindness, and service, as we are present for God, community, and ourselves. This is how we create a better world each day.
Suzanne Anderson is the author of "Love in a Time of War" and other books. You can reach her at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.
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