I was wandering around Lifeway today, doing a little mother's day shopping, when I came upon a charming votive candle holder in the shape of a dove. The dove appeared to be carved from a resin material and had intricate designs and textures detailed in rich shades atop a bronzed ivory colored body. Painted on one side was the word "FAITH." On the other, "LOVE."
I was strangely drawn to this little bird. I don't collect birds, and I detest shopping, so I wouldn't normally form an attachment to a trinket such as this. When I noticed it was the only one left, I became quite possessive of it and picked it up and carried it around with me while I shopped. I wasn't necessarily planning to buy it, but I knew I needed to spend some more time with it. As I tried to shop my attention stayed focused on the little bird, and suddenly a buried memory resurfaced.
When I was a child, my stepmother had a little, roughly carved Indian in the same resin type of material as the bird. He was painted in bright, primary colors and if you turned the Indian one way he wore red clothing, had a big smile, and had the words "great spirit happy," on him. If you turned him around, he was an entirely different Indian, wearing blue clothing with a big frown and had the words "great spirit sad," on him. My stepmother loved the happy Indian, and I loved the sad Indian, so we would spend all summer turning that Indian around and around to respectively display our favorite side. I suspect at the end of each summer, when I traveled back home to my mom, that Indian was probably pretty happy to be able to have a few months' reprieve to regain his equilibrium.
"FAITH" or "LOVE" Which side of the bird will I display, I thought and just like that I knew he was no longer just along for the shopping excursion - he was coming home with me. I decided "FAITH" would be the most important for me to display. Love is great, but faith says, "I'M A CHRISTIAN." I grabbed a Christian Research Journal, paid, and drove across the street to Schlotzsky's for some lunch.
I go to Scholtzsky's occasionally for lunch and I always take a book or magazine. Engrossed in my reading of choice, I absolutely never pay attention to what is going on around me. I read while I eat, and then I leave. But today was different. It was a little later than usual so it wasn't overly crowded and it was quieter. I had maintained intense focus on an article in my magazine until I had finished it, and as I was turning to the next article, I recognized something -- a song -- a (Christian???) song -- an obvious Christian song. Chris Tomlin's "Holy is the Lord" was actually playing on Schlotzky's radio at lunch hour. Wow!
Allow me to digress for a moment. I had a similar "Wow!" moment last Wednesday at Kohls department store when I heard Addison Road's "Hope Now" playing on their radio. Not as obvious of a Christian song, but a Christian song nonetheless. These kind of moments always excite me.
Back to Schlotzsky's. I closed my magazine and took some time to look around. Did anyone else notice the song? The four guys in business suits at the table next to me? Nope, they were talking shop. The two guys and the girl sitting on the other side of me? No, the couple was telling the guy how they met. The single guy across the way gnawing into his humongous sandwich? Don't think so -- it didn't seem to phase him. All around me, life was going on and an honest-to-goodness Christian song, a full-on worship song at that, was playing all around us. Were there Christians in this crowd? I wondered. Wouldn't they notice this song? Wouldn't they be looking up in excitement over a public place playing a Christian song so boldly, just like I was?
Then I realized, maybe not. Maybe they don't hear it. Or maybe they are so used to not having their senses filled with anything Christian in places like this that they just don't notice it. Who, in here, needs to hear about Jesus, and who already knows Him? Who has faith that I just can't see, and what exactly would I need them to do to show it to me?
How do people know that we are faithful followers of Jesus Christ? Do we put our faith on display like I wanted to do through my special little dove? Throw our hands up in the air and start praising God when a worship song surprises us at Scholtzsky's? Run to the most non-Christian looking patron in the restaurant and boldy demand, "If you died today, Sir, do you know where you would spend eternity?" Proudly display our Jesus fish and John 3:16 bumper sticker but walk right past the begging homeless guy in the parking lot?
The answer is no. We don't do any of these things. People know we are Christians by the love we share, not by the faith we say we have or the trinkets we display. We build relationships with others, we share our experiences of Jesus with others, and we help those in need. The loving actions we perform are the outward representations of our faith. People don't see our faith, they see our love which evidences our faith.
Thanks to Schlotzsky's, my adorable little dove will show "LOVE."