in the doing.

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I could sing the praises of the wild, untamed grace I have experienced. Kind words at just the right time. Forgiveness, given and received. The ability to grow and change. The beauty of common graces, if I will only have eyes to see them.

But sometimes I think we talk about grace so much that I forget that what I do matters. It matters not just for my “witness” or for what other people think; it matters for me.

I have read several books lately that talk about the importance of actions in a Jesus-follower’s life. Jesus talked a lot about actions, it turns out, and our actions reveal our hearts, what we really believe. In Insurrection, Pete Rollins says, “All the energy that is exerted in attempting to close the gap between what we think and how we act fails to acknowledge that our practices do not fall short of our beliefs, but are the concrete material expression of them. In other words, our outer world is not something that needs to be brought into line with our inner world, but is an expression of it.” If you are like me, this is a fearsome thing. What I claim to believe is different than the ways that I usually act.

I can hear the people out there who are wincing that this is too works-based, that we aren’t saved by our actions, that grace. We don’t earn God’s favor through what we do, but I think it’s part of how we work out the meaning of our lives. Recently, I have been reflecting on the messages I got as a kid growing up in youth group. The youth in my church do a lot of service work that allows them to give and receive and that is also fun. Growing up, my youth group studied the Bible a lot, but I cannot remember ever actually helping someone. We never fed the hungry or clothed the naked or built shelter for the homeless. And I learned that it was better to talk about God than to actually go and do the things that Jesus said were important.

Let me tell you, I could talk a lot about God. I was much less comfortable giving to others from my heart, of my life.

This topic gets even more complicated when there are kids in the picture, whether they are mine or someone else’s. They see what I would prefer to hide: when my patience runs thin, when I am overwhelmed, when I am tired. They mostly want to know if I am kind. They want to know about my character. The way I show them that is not by explaining that I feed my kid organics or by summarizing the latest greatest book that is sweeping the internets. It is by being gracious, by standing up against injustice, by being brave. I tell them the truth when they ask, to the very best of my ability.

I want to teach Atticus that what he does is important. Not because he has to be good, not because of hypocrisy. But because of love. Because I hope the love of God changes things for him like it has for me. Because sometimes faith is in the doing. Sometimes it changes our hearts to live out the things that Jesus talked about. I want Atticus to know those stories from the Bible, to be able to breathe them in and out like I can. But I hope he learns, much earlier than I did, not to stop there.

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6 Comments

  1. no you are right and sometimes truth is not pretty you know…we dont just get to do whatever and expect grace to cover it up…i mean grace is there for a reason but not to just keep doing whatever we want and it does affect othrs around us…

    Posted 5/30/2012 at | Permalink
  2. You are soo right! I was wrestling with this, this morning. Sometimes I feel my actions and what I know in my heart don’t always line up. Are my words and actions pointing to Christ? Or am I blending? Convicting stuff.

    Posted 5/30/2012 at | Permalink
  3. There is so much here. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
    There are so many passages that tell us that our actions are a reflection of what is in our heart. The *fruit* of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, …..

    And yes, you can know what one believes by watching what they do. We don’t prove our faith by our actions, but our actions prove what we believe. It’s throughout the entire book of James.

    And so, our actions, at times, ought to cause us to examine our heart, not because we fear punishment (if we know Jesus), but because we love him want to know him more.

    Posted 5/30/2012 at | Permalink
  4. Yes, actions matter. Live life fully, for Him. Thank you for sharing what is on your heart today.

    Posted 5/31/2012 at | Permalink
  5. I think actions matter not because of the actions themselves but because the heart matter, and our actions flow from our heart. Is my heart taken up with Jesus? Then yes, I will still fail, but increasingly my actions will reflect Him and His love. If they don’t, it should cause me to examine my heart.

    Posted 6/3/2012 at | Permalink
  6. Jayne

    I wonder if children now who grow up immersed in any faith – Christ centered faiths I know best, but it could be true in Judaism or Islam or any structured faith with a set of doctrines and codes- aren’t given more opportunity to participate in the tenets of their faith than my generation or even yours (which is the generation of my children). I see far more youth involvement in active service to poor or disenfranchised people in many communities than I remember from years ago. In my faith, adults as well, now have opportunity to fill service missions that are not proselyting, only serving people and communities. I hope that it is a sign that we realize that we must serve each other and care for each other, not to be saved, but grace saved us all and we want to show our gratitude by passing that godly love along.

    Posted 6/25/2012 at | Permalink

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