Church leaders, pastors and even members talk about being faithful to the word of God. But how do we determine what is being faithful? Is it following a list of biblical rules and regulations? Or is it more challenging than that?
Perhaps, in part, it is a matter of entering the story of God, not standing back and viewing it from the sidelines. The story of God reveals that from the beginning to the end of the Bible, God is on a mission. God is involved. God is passionate. God reaches out. GOD NEVER GIVES UP on calling each of us to return to him. God pursues, woos, calls, nurtures warns, promises, blesses, guides, judges, frees, provides, shapes, feeds, speaks, heals, forgives and cleanses. And God does it all for love — a wildly extravagant all encompassing love.
The word “character,” derived from the Greek word charaktēr, was originally used of a mark impressed upon a coin. Later it came to mean a point by which you could tell one thing apart from others. Scripture tells us that human beings bear the mark of God: So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 2.27).
The character of those who profess to follow God matters, whether they are leaders of congregations, members of congregations or just those who claim to be Christian. How does the way we conduct ourselves in church and out in the community impact the Body of Christ and reveal the kingdom of God to those we encounter? If we bear the mark — the character of God — oughtn’t we to act like God, to pursue, woo, call, nurture, warn, bless, free, provide, heal and cleanse?
If this is the character of God, how are we doing in bearing God’s mark? The Jesuits suggest that there is a good way to measure our faithfulness and that is by asking ourselves some questions at the end of every day.
How did I live today? Did I allow the Triune God and Scripture to guide my activities today? In other words, did I enter the story of God? How did knowledge that I’m living in God’s story influence my actions today? Did I practice any virtues (e.g., integrity, honesty, compassion)? Did I do more good than harm? Did I treat others with dignity and respect? Did I act as though they, too, bear the mark of God — no matter their skin color, their ethnicity, their political stance, or even if I liked them or not? Was I fair and just? Did I put the welfare of the community above my own welfare as God put the welfare of humankind above his own welfare in Jesus? Was my community better because I was in it? Was I better because I was in my community?
I find this a challenging exercise, inviting these questions to confront me every day. I hope, though, that this daily examination of my own character in light of God’s character will help me to more clearly bear the mark, the character of God.
The Rev. Camille Josey is the pastor at Silver Creek Presbyterian Church.