The greatest testimony of all, beyond the life of our Lord, is our own life as we live it.
- We can castigate bullies, but if we are one, that means nothing.
- We can warn against the dangers of texting and driving, but if we do it, it means nothing.
- We can champion self-respect, but if we have none, it means nothing.
- We can caution against failing to set healthy boundaries, but it we fail to, it means nothing.
We, the wise, older set, who have lived life and have something to say, are resounding gongs and clanging symbols in the lives of those we love if we say one thing and do another. We become noise-makers, adding additional volume but no more meaning.
This, I believe, is why the biblical Paul so passionately begins his plea to the people of Corinth this way:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
This precedes the beautiful “love chapter” of the Bible often read at weddings. Of the love that is patient and kind and doesn’t envy or boast. The love that’s not self-seeking, isn’t prideful or easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. That perfect love which never fails.
That’s the love we can never quite live up to but which sets an example to reach for in our lives with another, and with all others, including ourselves.
First, we have to let that love come alive and be real in us, before we try to pawn it off on someone else. Otherwise, our hypocrisy is telling, and they will probably waste no time telling us! When we say one thing, but do another, it’s our unloving that’s showing.
We have to start with love, both for ourselves and the other – not an easy task. It requires perspective beyond ourselves to set a right course for our intentions and priorities. When we invite an honest look at the lives we are leading, we can align our thoughts, words and actions with the love God intends.
When we start with love, what we say and do makes a whole lot more sense.
When Paul was flattened by a light and a voice on the road to Damascus, he listened. And in that moment, the world changed.
Do we have a moment to stop, look and listen?
This is the question I hear people around me chastising themselves with regularly. I really “should” find time to …. exercise, eat right, play with the kids, finish that manuscript (ahem), call my parents, volunteer, visit relatives, pray … And then there is Nike, so very helpfully, telling us “Just Do It.” But we don’t and we don’t like this about ourselves, which spins us down into the ‘don’t like’ cycle.
This is why I love the Kinesthetic approach. (I think Paul was a Kinesthetic Jew.) He was, in fact, on the way to just doing it when that voice got his attention. He wasn’t knelt in prayer or fasting or attending a service, he was on the move.
And that’s how I see us even now. Moving, albeit at warp speed. Frankly, if I stop, I get dizzy watching everyone else whiz by. Then I’m tempted to run and catch up. But that’s where I go wrong. Acceleration sets me spinning. What I need is to keep the same speed. To coast, as it were. To do and be about my doing at God’s pace, but keeping an eye and an ear out for God-speak. For that light and that voice.
Stopping gets me all unraveled. Then I have to build up momentum again. Moving, especially moving along a familiar road – driving my kid to school, running the neighborhood, sketching in my journal, walking the dog, shooting hoops, hitting putts or range balls, even eating lunch all by myself at the table – all these things engage the rest of me so my eyes and ears and those wonderful inner circuits can have a conversation.
I never know what I’ll discover there, but it’s always enlightening. It changes me.
Coincidentally, I am just completing my listening to an online course on marketing. I have never been trained in these principles. It’s no wonder that Fit2Finish (my small business) has remained small and unknown, given my ignorance. The final lecture discusses ways to appeal to your market. One way is the personal appeal called the testimonial. It is used in cases when “consumption is uncertain,” it says, when you can’t know whether the product works until you try it. The “Try this because look what it’s done for me!” appeal.
Funny, I guess I have been a marketing major all along. Thanks for joining me along the way.