1.Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 23: 1-4)
During the past weeks I have been invited on to a number of interview panels in various learning communities. In a recent round of interviews one of the questions from a pastor to one of the candidates was “What practice of Jesus would you preach?” and “What personal practice would you preach?” (The interpretation of preach here was more about ‘live’ than just speak). I was so engaged personally in the question that I lost concentration on the answer from the candidate! I managed to wrestle my attention back and her response gave us an insight into her personal connection and relationship with Jesus as well as her beliefs into action.
So here is my question to you: “How would you answer that question?”
For me, so many ‘practices’ of Jesus came to mind:
- Courage to call-out injustice without fear of consequences
- Courage to identify and challenge hypocrisy
- Compassion for the spiritually needy, sick, hungry, grieving
- Embracing the ‘outsiders’, acceptance and deep listening
- Dedicated time in prayer
- Focus on God’s unconditional love and what that means for how we see God, ourselves and others
come quickly to mind.
But now that I look at this list, I wonder how many of these I ‘talk about’ and how many of these I ‘act on’ as part of my daily life? While in the bible passage Jesus was initially talking about the Pharisees, he was warning his disciples and followers not to fall into the same trap: “How do our actions follow our words?”
This is where ‘personal’ practices can allow for God to equip us to ‘walk the talk’, to still our minds and to speak to our heart. For me, well this is a work in progress. Dedicating time to allow myself to be truly ‘present’ with God rather than just paying attention to my hyperactive mind, is becoming an important practice and the recognition of God’s presence in all situations.
I have to say there was another question which the pastor asked of a different candidate that was “What song would you sing around a campfire?” but I think I will let that one go…