Put Up or Shut Up

Nearly every Christian I know is very familiar with St. Francis’ famous quote, “Go into all the world and preach the good news, and if necessary use words.”  I’ve always found this quote inspiring.  I’ve even used it on several occasions.  St. Francis didn’t just pull this out of thin air.  In the Bible Jesus explains The Gospel to us by living it out.  Yes, he does do his fair share of speaking, but it is almost always because someone is asking him what he is doing.  Jesus’ parables came because what he was doing was so revolutionary that people needed explanation.  Today, we seem to get it backwards by trying to say revolutionary things when the world around us wasn’t asking (I first heard this point from N.T. Wright).

Today I was sitting at my desk and judging people on Facebook for preaching lofty ideals while doing very little to fulfill them (I know, just like Jesus would be doing).  I’ve heard this called disembodied idealism.  It was then that I realized the mutual exclusion of practicing and preaching.  It would seem that the more one talks about his/her beliefs, the less they tend to live them out.  I’ve always known being good is better than talking about goodness, but I had never thought that talking itself could lead to less doing. 

Things took a turn for the worse pretty fast at that point.  Out of nowhere I was square in the cross-hairs of my own judgments.  I started remembering all of my preachy Facebook posts.  My love for preaching in Church, and in general.  My need to throw my two cents into any discussion.  I then juxtaposed my lofty ideals against my mediocre life and I became silent.  Yep!  I’m that guy!  My condemnation of my peers was no more deserved than by me.

I should have known I was the one with the problem.  Here’s how to know you’re a hypocrite:  you tell everyone else what they should be doing and judge them for not doing it.  If you do this, you can be about 95% sure that you are not practicing what you preach and are trying to make yourself feel better by condemning everyone else.  In a nutshell, I am the chief of these sinners.

Enough of this hypocrisy!  It seems I have two choices: match my life to my idealistic rants or stop preaching what I am not living out.   Then again, my new discovery may show the need for a third way.  Perhaps I need to do both; but get the order right this time.  My prayerful resolution must become this:  to become the belief I so passionately long for others to adopt, and when I can realistically say this is the case, to decide how best to encourage others to do the same.  If I had to guess, once I’ve put forth the blood, sweat, and tears necessary, and miserably failed at the task several times, I will have much more humility and grace in my preaching than I do now.  Lord, let it be so.

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About Adam

I am a old Christian seeking to become new. I want to know and follow Jesus: the "New Adam" who made the way back to Paradise. I graduated from North Central University with a degree in Business and a Bible Minor. I married my wife Tori in June of 2011 in Colorado. Our ceremony could be best described as pseudo-Quaker. Our reception was a farm-to-table communion meal. Our wedding dance: essentially a music festival. It was a full picture of our ministry as a couple. I grew up in the Dakotas. It's not my favorite location in the world. I have a dad, a mom, and a sister. My parents have been together for about 30 years. We love each other, but it's a bit dysfunctional. I am now a free lance gardener. I promote gardening, community, and preferably a combination thereof.
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8 Responses to Put Up or Shut Up

  1. Nathan Lewicki says:

    You know what I like about you? When you make a decision, you can be counted on to carry it through. This is, in my opinion, one of those beliefs that you hold to that your life models. I’ve never heard you talk about the importance of commitment and dedication at length- you just do them. In a way, you’ve “become” them. Examples:

    When you decided to love Tori, you never stopped.
    When you decided to start the group and see it through, you never stopped.
    When you decided to let people into your life, you never stopped.
    When you wanted to start a blog to record your hidden thoughts, you never stopped.

    And I could go on and on. In every one of these things, you had the chance to throw in the towel, and I don’t know that anyone would have thought you a bad person. There were plenty of reasons that were plenty valid. That doesn’t seem to matter to you- you keep to it regardless.

    In your struggle to become Christ- I know you’ll not give up, I can’t even imagine it. Ergo, your struggle to live your values, rather than preach them, is also not impossible.

  2. Thanks Nathan. When taking a hard look at oneself it’s hard to keep perspective. At times, I feel like giving up when I see some of these character flaws in myself. Because of how troubling they are, it’s difficult to get an idea of scale. Sometimes it makes me wonder if they are the most formiddable quality about me.

    Therefore, the encouragement is greatly appreciated. I’m not sure if it offers much perspective for me yet, but it helps me believe that there may be more good things going on in this self of mine than what I see. So thanks for the taking the time to remind me that you see good where I see pain. This is the work of a prophet–to see what God sees and tell about it.

  3. Josias says:

    Adam,

    I’ve always been very impressed with you Adam, your actions and words. What you’ve written here is very mature and wise. It is with this humility and perspective that will keep you open to the Spirit’s guidance and development. I hope that more followers of Jesus will see what your eyes have begun to see (including myself). Peace to you.

  4. Rachelle says:

    Adam, I know that in your increasing quietness you will only become stronger and in a different way, louder. Though your preaching may be dull to you right now, I see the Gospel becoming sharper within you. It’s uncomfortable (to put it lightly) to shed the disembodied ideals, but I can see how it will lead to such a unity with Christ! This is what we all want, right? Well, thanks for being honest about the process. We should chat soon…

  5. Josias,
    Wow, coming from you those words mean a great deal! I definitely see you as someone who’s the real deal–your actions speak very loud. I actually read a bit from your blog. It was really cool to see what you’re up to, and how you’ve been seeking and finding Jesus amongst some of the poorer (economically) people in the world. Thanks for your encouragement as I too attempt to find Jesus in the vulnerable places of the earth–even my lonely living room.

    Blessings!

  6. Thanks Rachelle! You know, it’s hard to see this process as a unification with Christ. It feels more like the opposite to be honest. Thanks for believing for me that this is good, and worth it. I believe very much that if I didn’t have encouragers I would already have resigned to believe that this is nothing more than a massive “backsliding.” In my “quietness” I have lost the ability to distract myself from seeing what I don’t want to see. My selfishness, my hate, my fear, and my loneliness seem some days to be all that remain. They are a heavy burden on my shoulders. They drive my head downward so I cannot always see ahead or especially above. I don’t know why I didn’t think to lay these down long ago. I think I was running so fast before I didn’t realize the weight. Somehow, my haste made them seem manageable. But now, in this standstill I feel every pound of it digging into my flesh. I see now that I must stand up straight if I want to see this road out to its end.

  7. Josias says:

    I think Rachelle nailed it when she said, “I see the Gospel becoming sharper within you.” The Gospel is quite sharp, deadly that is. When I noticed that for me the Gospel wasn’t “sharp,” I knew I had a problem. I was completely missing the point. And now, like you Adam, I’m trying to relearn this Gospel.

  8. Nathan Lewicki says:

    Ha. I didn’t even know that you replied to this. Thanks for that. :)

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