Thoughts and Prayers and Action

It seems like all of life is a rebellion, every waking moment a battle against mediocrity and hypocrisy. This first week of Lent was no different for me. Approaching this journey I stilled my heart for the inevitable reminders of death and pain. The palpable pain of loss is fresh in my daily existence of death certificates and probate attorneys.

But then the unexpected happened. Florida happened.

 

Gun shots. Death. A massacre of innocents.

 

Horror.

Through the days since, as is our culture, my social media was full of thoughts and prayers and calls for action.  Anger and sorrow poured from the screen as our entire nation grieved openly through their keyboards. We argued with our friends, lamented our politicians, and lambasted any opposing view.

What struck me, specifically in this Lenten season, was the open anger towards the “clanging cymbal” like call for “thoughts and prayer.”

It seems like the last few years our lives have been filled with constant refrains of “thoughts and prayers” from well meaning Christians, myself included, that have been absent any real action.

There are hungry in the streets? Thoughts and prayers.

There are fellow humans suffering under systematic racism? Thoughts and prayers.

There are children massacred? Thoughts and prayers.

We didn’t make them lose their job. We weren’t blatantly racist. We didn’t pull the trigger.

 

Thoughts and prayers.

 

I will spare you from echoing this refrain over and over in all sorts of contexts.

Now hear me. It’s not that thoughts and prayers are bad. They’re essential to our faith. It’s simply that devoid of action, they are hollow. They are lazy and disengaged.   

The great danger of Christian discipleship is that we should have two religions: a glorious, biblical Sunday gospel that sets us free from the world, that in the cross and resurrection of Christ makes eternity alive in us, a magnificent gospel of Genesis and Romans and Revelation; and, then, an everyday religion that we make do with during the week between the time of leaving the world and arriving in heaven.
— Eugene Peterson

My faith is a Sunday kind of faith. I feel at home within the walls of the church. I enjoy the bread and the wine, the body and the blood. The repetition of my faith ritual gives my faith flesh and bones.

But, if I were to be honest, the body of my faith lacks expression. It lacks the Monday through Saturday pilgrimage of faith. It is absent the faith-in-action dance that gives my faith its expression to the world. I am starving myself for need of action, for need of trust in this God who I claim to follow.

One of my favorite things about Jesus is that he got things done. When the woman came to him who could not stop bleeding, he didn’t reply “thoughts and prayers.” He healed her. He healed the lepers, gave the blind sight, and fed the multitudes.

He thought. He prayed. He acted.

Commanding his disciples, Jesus urged them to take up their cross and follow him. Not with just their thoughts and prayers, but with their life and their death, with their income and debts, with their victories and mistakes… with their actions.

That same Jesus calls us to do the same. He calls us to die to ourselves for the sake of his Kingdom. He calls us to forsake the darkness for the sake of the light. He calls us to leave our rights, our political leanings, our stubborn socio-economic labels at the door for something far greater than we can imagine. He calls for action.    

My hope is that we all experience a God this week who is present in our thoughts and prayers, but also, in our action. In a journey filled with death and destruction, may we dedicate our lives to the great pilgrimage of faith from our waking moments on Monday to our twilight hours of Saturday.  May we put action to our faith.

Truth be told, I’m tired of the same old refrains. I’m tired of hearing about our culture’s “heart problem”. I’m tired of the judgment on our so called “godless” nation (as if we were ever “God’s nation”). I’m just bone tired. The problem is not them. The problem is me. It’s me and my inaction. It’s me and my lack of faith.  

It’s time for a change.

I don’t know how this will look for me.

But it’s where I am. It’s where I am at in the gritty, messy reality of my faith. I’m exhausted from trying to live out a faith devoid of compassionate action, a faith dedicated to a God I don’t quite trust enough to live out through my physical body.

As we continue this march towards Calvary, may he give life to these old, creaky bones. May he bring resurrection to my dead mess. May he rescue me from my hollow, lazy, disengaged faith.  

May I be the kind of Christian who’s actions speak for her thoughts and prayers.


Answer these questions:

How did I worship God this week?

How did I rebel against God this week?

In what ways will I commit to seeking His Kingdom purposes in this coming week?

In what ways do you hope to engage your faith in action?