Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
In the pre-Facebook age, it was the fish badge of the back of your car. It proudly proclaimed to the world that you were a Christian. Not so explicit that others would be offended, but a sign among friends that you belonged. It was there for those sharing the freeway with you–your mark of heaven—if they knew what it meant. You drove with your gleaming chrome talisman making the proclamation that you were different. You were a Christian. Until you weren’t.
Until you started weaving in an out of the traffic to gain that additional minute at Starbucks. Until you began to honk and yell at your fellow travellers who somehow impeded your progress. Until you blew the red light, the crimson reflection of the chrome fish making it stand out even more. Actions speak louder than words chrome fish badges.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.
The Facebook era has taken the words and actions divide to a new measure. We find ourselves able to post moving devotionals or spiritual sounding statement emblazoned across HDR photographs, all with the intention of espousing our Christianity for others to see. And admire. And to think of us differently. Like a fish badge that hundreds or thousands of people can see now, thinking that I’m serving God at a level to which others might aspire. Until you’re not.
Until the difference between your words and your actions is discovered. Until the soaring words or scripture verses that we had so carefully arranged over the inspiring photograph are discovered to bear little resemblance to our real life. Until our practice is shown to be far out of alignment with our proclamation. Until it is discovered that our discipleship is found to be but a peripheral part of our life, or worse, a faith of our own creation.
The Bible warns the Christian repeatedly not to be two-faced, the classic hypocrite. The Bible demands of the disciple that their be no seam between their proclaimed faith and the tableau of their lives. There is no option for the follower of Jesus to be one of mere intellectual assent, particularly one who screams of a depth of faith loud enough to be noticed by others and gain their recognition. To be liked. 345 thumbs up. But to be distant from a faith community. But to be divisive and withhold your gifts from the works of God.
The disciple of Jesus Christ is concerned with only one like. The disciple of Jesus Christ is not seeking the approval of other disciples, even less so the approval of other ‘Christians’. The disciple of Jesus Christ allows no division between any public words that they speak or publish and all of the actions that they take. Word and deed go hand in hand.