I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Faith, and faithfulness. To put your Faith in something (or someone) is essentially to declare that you will remain faithful to that thing or person. For example, if I say that my Faith lies in God, it means I will intend to be faithful to him; to his leadings, to his character, and to the life he calls me to live. But if I purposely dispose my life of his ideals, can I still call myself a person of Faith? If I believe in him, but I am not faithful to him, what does this say about me? What does this say about my Faith?
I have also been thinking a lot about Grace. Grace, by its very definition, is unasked for. It is never deserved, is usually a surprise, and always comes after some kind of broken trust. There is a set of Bible verses often quoted when the topic of Grace comes up; the paraphrase is this: don’t abuse the Grace you know is there.
“I am thinking of doing ______ / I am not sure if I believe _________ / I sometimes wonder about ______” are statements that can get you into serious trouble. Even if you are not intending to act on any of these misgivings, even if you are genuinely seeking to learn, it will be assumed by some that you need to be lectured and preached to; pushed back in to the stereotype that quite frankly, you should be happy to live under. Because really, some people don't know what to do with imperfect people.
So when it comes to Humanity, Grace, Faith, and Community, I have come to discover this: the only way to mix these four together is to add a whole lot of LOVE. Without love, Humanity shocks the system and keeps a list. Without love, acts of Grace are incomplete and pretentious. Without love, Faith is a futile façade. Without love, Community dies.
If you can not love the person while they are still human, you do not really love them. If you can not love a person while they do not share your faith or beliefs, you do not really love them. If you can not love a person while they are in need of grace, you do not really love them. If the way you communicate with that person is not loving, consider the reasons this might be.
Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. It is not self seeking or rude. Love keeps no record of past mistakes. Love protects (note: not “self righteously corrects”). Love induces hope and faith, but in the end is greater than them both.
So to this end I ask: do you really love them?