Beliefs into Biographies
When I scroll through my social media feeds each day, I see a lot of great conversations, thoughtful insight, inspiring stories. There's a lot of negativity, as well, and more than enough fear to go around.
But I'm trying to do better about not simply placing people in a category based on something they posted on Facebook. Anthony de Mello once wrote:
Don't cut the person to fit the coat.I know that I've done my fair share of that lately, and I've probably had a good reason for it. Who knows? Perhaps the coat fits in some cases. Maybe it fits like it was made for them.
But the fact of the matter is, we are all living our own story when it comes to growth and change, which means I can't drag someone else into mine. I can, however, do something about the way my story is being written. Let me explain.
I was doing some reading the other day and came across this amazing quote from Bob Goff's book Live in Grace, Walk in Love. This is what he wrote:
The way we treat people is a report card on how far we've come in turning our beliefs into our biographies."Beliefs into biographies"...
That line stuck with me and I've been mulling it over for several days now, especially in light of all of the difficult conversations that have been taking place lately in the public sphere regarding racial injustice.
You see, I feel like that for a lot of folks who claim to be Christian this time of national crisis has become a moment when their stated beliefs have been outed as simply that... stated, and not lived... not part of their biography.
The fact of the matter is, it's not enough to say you love Jesus. If you don't demonstrate how that love changes the way you love others... it's just something you say, not something you live.
For my part, I've had to ask myself a very pointed question in relation to the idea of my beliefs becoming my biography. It's one that I think all of us should ask, but particularly those of us who say we follow Jesus:
"Are the things that I say I believe about God, Jesus and my Christian faith actually informing the way I live my life? The way I love others? Or are they just things I say I believe."Of course, this kind of introspection should be going on all of the time, not just during a global pandemic, followed by a national crisis. But it's moments of crisis that often bring out the best or the worst in us. It becomes the crucible within which our beliefs are tested.
Every day, each of us has to ask ourselves some challenging questions that will shape how we love others in direct response to our love for God. These questions will help us turn our beliefs into biographies.
- Am I acting in love or self-interest?
- Are my words/actions drawing people closer to Jesus, or driving them away?
- Is what I am about to say/do something that will bring shalom?
- Can I see people the way God sees them?
If we can make these questions part of our daily journey, they will become internalized, ingrained in the way we think and process our responses to one another. They can help us learn to match the things we do with the things we say we believe.
They will help us turn our beliefs into our biography.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.