If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.
I spent a good part of the early afternoon today staring out the window of an Amtrak train, listening to some of my favorite music and allowing my mind to wander wherever it wanted to go. Most of the scenery was pretty static- trees and fields and water; pretty, but less than thought provoking. And then suddenly, down the tracks, there was a billboard. In bright red letters, it shouted one word- JESUS. Beneath, there was some very tiny writing and a drawing of a house that I couldn't quite make out as the train raced by.
The billboard broke me out of whatever mental cloud I was on. I couldn't help but wonder what the sign was trying to say. I suppose it was meant to represent the big man Himself, that the creators of the billboard felt that just by seeing the name, people would be touched and changed. But surely proclaiming from the mountaintops requires a little more work, doesn't it? After all, most people do not question the existence of Jesus- they believe in His life, and even His crucifixion- it's the claims of messiahship that really throw people off kilter.
It got me wondering what we are actually saying to people when we tell them that we believe in Jesus. Much of the population in America considers themselves to be christians. They know the story of Jesus (sort of), but it doesn't affect much of their every day lives. To some it means church on Christmas and Easter, or wakes when there is a death in the family. To others it is a religion that their parents took part in when they were younger. To even others, Jesus is just one of the teachers who had the right idea- peace and love and all that stuff. But while many know of Jesus, not as many actually know Jesus.
I am usually pretty forward about how I believe. I find it to be a bit of a conversation starter sometimes, and other times, an explanation for a behavior or idea that I hold. But I have to wonder if people really know what I mean when I refer to my faith. Do they understand that my life has been transformed by truth? Do they know that I actually mentally ask myself what Jesus would want me to do when I have to make decisions? Do they know that I pray? Do they know that I memorize the bible and quote it back to myself in times of trouble because it's actually comforting to me?
Most importantly, do they know that is the most important thing that I am?
Faith without works is dead- this we know. It's not that salvation requires our action; it's the need for a savior because we could never live up that shows us where Jesus fits in the first place. It's that we have to show Him to a world that doesn't really know Him. They maybe know His name. But it isn't enough.
I want to be more than a billboard with just a word on it. I want to be a whole picture of the transformation and joy that comes with being forgiven, and I want other people to see it and wonder how they too can feel the same. I want to spark controversy by what I have to say, to be thought provoking, and to make Jesus known through who I am.
And I want to mindful of this picture I am at all times. So that I might cause people to ponder through their own beliefs and wonder about how Jesus might change them. Not just to those I know, but to everyone who passes me as they speed by on their own journey through life.