An unfortunate development in western culture has been the growing separation of thought from action; from what we believe in our heart to how we act in the world. On some level, we still recognize we ought to have a congruence between what we hold to be true and how we live, but we seem to believe that it’s enough for us just to have the right thoughts about life. We just don’t have to do anything about it. We can still feel righteous because we believe we hold the right conviction. And we can denounce anyone who doesn’t feel the way we do or hold the position we hold.
This has also crept into our religious life. If we hold the right belief about God, or Jesus, or the Church, then it doesn’t matter whether that belief results in right action. We have divorced orthodoxy (“right belief”) from orthopraxy (“right practice”) so much so that it’s enough for us just to be “right.” I hope we’re all convicted by this. And I also hope we’re willing to not only do some soul-searching about how each of us has manifested this disconnection, but also to take steps to reconnect belief and action in our own lives.
Presented for your consideration: We’re all aware that many of our public schools are struggling to educate our children. In Georgia, we’re 45th among the 50 states in most measurements for educational quality and success. Teachers in our public schools are asked to do a near impossible job of educating our children while also dealing with a multitude of issues those children bring to the classroom. There are many reasons why our public schools aren’t measuring up. Depending on our point of view, each of us will blame certain reasons while discounting others.
So, we can blame teachers, poor parenting, or the government, all the while congratulating ourselves on being right, or we can do something about it. Each of our congregations is near a public school. What if our congregational leaders made an appointment with the principal of their nearby school and simply asked: “We know y’all have a difficult job, what can we do to help?” Now, the principal may list ten things her/his teachers could use help with, and because of limitations of time and talent in the congregation, we couldn’t do nine of them. But we could do that one thing.
Jesus summed up religion succinctly in the Great Commandment: “Love God with all you have and love your neighbor just as if you were loving yourself.” What I’ve proposed is a direct way for all of us to show neighbor-love. To do this, congregations don’t need an outreach budget or a strategic plan, they just need a willingness by a few people to make a difference at a nearby school. It’s a way for us to begin to reconnect our belief and our action.