Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sharing Something worth Sharing

One of my friends posted John Wesley’s Holy Club Questions today on Facebook.  I had not read them recently and they instantly brought me right back to my UM Polity and Doctrine course in seminary at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri.  It was an amazing moment of memory and connection.

If you are not familiar with them, here they are:

• Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
• Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
• Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
• Can I be trusted?
• Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
• Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
• Did the Bible live in me today?
• Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
• Am I enjoying prayer?
• When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
• Do I pray about the money I spend?
• Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
• Do I disobey God in anything?
• Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
• Am I defeated in any part of my life?
• Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
• How do I spend my spare time?
• Am I proud?
• Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
• Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
• Do I grumble or complain constantly?
• Is Christ real to me?

Several of these jumped out at me, but the one that constantly brings me up short asks, “When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?” 

Sharing something “important” in our lives takes place hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands of times, on Twitter and Facebook every minute of the day.  People tweet what they are doing in 140 characters or less even if it seems trivial or pointless to others.  People update their status on Facebook whether it is about an awesome cup of coffee, a gripe about their job, or a life changing event.  We sit around dinner tables at home and in restaurants telling others about things that we did during that particular day.  Sharing daily events happens all the time.

But faith is something we could be sharing more often than most of us currently are.  The question asks, simply, are your talking about your faith with others?  And more pointedly, when was the last time you did so?

My faith is vital to who I am.  Living my faith is a daily activity.  Walking with God is essential to my life.  Being part of a community of faith is my lifeblood.  Taking time to pray is a daily ritual.  Being a servant for justice makes my faith walk and talk in the world.  Following the example of Jesus is something I strive to do always.

But again, Wesley asks, When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?”  For me it’s easy.  I had a talk about my faith on the plane coming back from Texas earlier this month after my seatmate asked what I do for a living and got curious.  But before that - and outside of the classroom or pulpit - it has been a while. And I need to be better about that.

Sharing our faith is an important part of our lives as Christians.  But we often fail to do so.

Why?  Fear, lack of experience, discomfort sharing personal faith stories, lack of relationships with those who we could share with, anxiety about sharing too much, tensions in our own faith lives, and many others keep us from sharing our faith.

Sharing our faith starts with creating relationships – in our work places, in our communities, in our families, in our social networks, etc.  Being ourselves and sharing who we are as people of faith can be as simple as sharing a prayer on Twitter or Facebook, as personal as talking about our church or faith community with friends, or as profound as bringing another person to faith through our words and witness.

We have to start somewhere.  So this week … share your faith with others.  Do it in subtle, simple ways to gain confidence … then you will feel even more comfortable sharing your faith story with others down the line.

Sharing has to start sometime.  What better time than now?

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