When I first moved to Missouri in August 2000, one of the first things I noticed was that Missourians held opinions to themselves. So I did a little digging. I found that our history as a so-called neutral state in the Civil War (1861-1865) had a profound effect on local communication. In those days, your own cousin might be fighting for the other side. So people put on “cool,” neutral faces in public and saved lively conversations about politics and religion for home.
These days, the culture war rages with one party against another, but in the midst of all that, the driving force of my life–to express my faith in Jesus Christ–has bubbled up into this crazy desire to say…the ‘F’ word.
Faith. I’m not talking about corny expressions of faith. No, I mean courageous ones.
Some of the most authentic memoirs and stories that I have read are are ones in which the author is not afraid to reference his or her back-story and touch on the existence or lack of faith. We’ve all seen movies about the end of the world but not one person says, “Let’s pray.” Or “do you believer there is life after death?” There shouldn’t be censorship of the important building blocks that have made make us who we are.
David Brooks, journalist and author, known for his editorials on culture and psychology with the New York Times opened my eyes to the need for transparency and effective communication of faith and character in the midst of global cultural shifts. Living out a life of integrity and generosity is possible since the Christian regularly practices self-reflection for the purpose of living a life that pleases God.
…one of the things that I think is wonderful about the Christian community…it’s completely familiar with total about the internal life…and so I think that’s one of the things the Christian world really can offer, but it has to be done in a package the other people can accept….There’s beauty to the gospel, and if you live out the beauty, people will like it whether they believe it in…in the divinity of Christ or not.*
Brooks challenges the believer in Jesus Christ to express authentic Christianity in his daily life and to find meaningful ways to engage in a dialogue with the unbeliever. We have to find ways to package faith and the premise of truth: namely, that there is universal moral compass and there is right and wrong.
Just before Christ’s crucifixion, the Roman governor Pilate turned to Jesus of Nazareth, whom he might have considered a philosopher from the street, and asked,
“What is truth?”
Pilate was either grappling with a cynical Greek mindset or he was truly ready for the answer.
There is a void of our personal stories, our journeys toward faith. They should be written down. If we can’t dialogue in the marketplaces of our day without being labeled politically, we must find another way.
Here, let me help.
- Interview of David Brooks, by Jim Daly, Focus on the Family, air date 4/06/16.