If you want to know what another person really believes and values then look at his or her actions. There is nothing profound about that statement. It’s a variation of the old cliché that actions speak louder than words. I wondered if I’d get a similar message from Kerry and Chris Shook’s recent book Be the Message: Taking Your Life Beyond Words to a Life of Action. But the reviews nudged me to read this book, written by a pastoral couple who are tired of sermons and a Christianity that is mostly about talking.
This book is a personal reflection written from a Christian perspective but with practical ideas that extend far beyond churchgoers. Consider three examples:
- Holy Disturbance sounds more theological than it is. This is something that “bothers you enough to make you consider moving out of your comfort zone to become part of the solution.” It’s an area so disturbing and persistent that we are compelled to act. We find this by looking at our life experiences, the people or events around us, and the injustices or areas of ignorance we see and want to change. Often a holy disturbance emerges when we take time to reflect and listen for God’s nudges or for the observations of friends. Sometimes we know what we need to be doing but resist because of fear or lethargy.
- The Valley of the Overwhelmed. This involves trying to do more than we can handle, sometimes because we see no alternative. Many people have big dreams to change the world. Nothing wrong with that. But “you can’t change the world by stepping over the people closest to you.” What small steps can you take, starting in your own home or neighborhood? Sometimes those small steps make the most lasting difference.
- Being the Message. That is the theme of the book. Sometimes doors of opportunity open that impact huge numbers of people. More often we impact the world through the lives we live, “being real and authentic, uniquely reflecting the message of Jesus to people who cross our paths every day.” We impact the world by who we are, how we respond in times of crises, react to the needs around us, or follow our areas of holy disturbance.
Is this too simple? Maybe. But there are times when we need to go back to the basics. Please share your experiences or comments.