There used to be a clear distinction between nouns and verbs. Nouns are people, places, and things. Verbs are words that show an action. Simple, right? But in the past few years, our society has switched things around. Developments in computer technology have given us new abilities, and instead of creating words to mean what we want to say, we’ve simply “verbed” the nouns. It used to be that I would send [a verb] an e-mail [a noun]. Now we’ve changed it to a verb — I’ll e-mail you. When I highlight something and color it pink, I say, “I’ll pink that.” When I want to send you a message, I message you, and of course we text each other. We’re all familiar with Facebook — a website [noun] — but now, it’s also a verb. He facebooked me. Or he friended me.
Ironically, when it comes to many things in the Bible, we’ve done just the opposite — we’ve taken words meant to be active and converted them into static, dry, abstract concepts. When the Bible tells us to love one another, it doesn’t mean to write romantic letters or daydream or evaluate the nuances of that love to determine how it makes us feel. It means to show love. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor. When it tells us to have faith, it doesn’t mean to spend months hypothesizing about the relative truths of Jesus’ claims and trying to figure out if or how they apply. It means to walk in faith. Act as though we believe it. Proceed as though it’s all been proven, even if it hasn’t. Even if we have doubts. Even if we aren’t 100% sure. The actions transform the motions into beliefs. The gestures evoke the feelings. And then the words mean what they are supposed to mean.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve been missing the point. Have I been so concerned with my own abstract “spirituality,” so focused on how I feel about God and so intent on discovering what purpose He has for me, that I’ve neglected to do what God wants me to do? Do my prayers focus on my own needs and neglect those of the community of believers? Have I changed faith from a tangible, concrete belief that makes a difference into a vague concept that means virtually nothing? Go. Do. Preach. Teach. Clothe. Feed. Help. Follow. In the Bible, Jesus’ disciples didn’t sit around waiting, unless Jesus specifically told them to. They didn’t have to earn a degree to be qualified to talk about God, or talk about whether they’ve been suitably empowered by the Spirit to be able to serve, or wonder which song would inspire people to kneel at the altar, or look at their watches when “worship” lasted too long. Their lives changed. They watched others’ lives change. So they went. Baptized. Preached. Made disciples. Shared their experiences. Obeyed. Prayed. Worshipped. Believed. Inspired. And loved. In the most active sense of the word and in the simplest of languages, they had faith. And so will I.