Seems like an odd question at first, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds one degree away from proselytization. But that isn’t really what we’re talking about, is it?
Faith, belief, and religion are usually quite personal. Most of us are reticent to share our faith due to social protocols. We know from experience that conversations about religion–like politics–often manifest a tangible anxiety and discomfort in any setting. For this reason, many of us keep our faith and convictions to ourselves for the sake of others.
But what if we’re thinking about this the wrong way?
St. Francis of Assisi is credited with saying “Preach the Gospel always, use words only when necessary.” St. Francis was a man obsessed with helping the poor and suffering by living among them and serving selflessly. I think this is a critical statement in our lives today as both people of faith and those of humanistic conviction. In a culture that bombards us daily with critics, pundits, preachers, and demagogues we hear a great deal of verbiage but little substance.
Many of our world’s philosophical and spiritual traditions allude to the art of being instead of mere projection. This was a difficult lesson for me during my Lent season of abstinence from this blog and other social media. I was projecting myself, thinking what I had to say or do was important, but very little be-ing.
“Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” –the Buddha
“Who is the most favored of Allah? He from whom the greatest good comes to His creatures.” –Prophet Muhammad
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” –Jesus Christ
“Doing good to others is not a duty, it is a joy, for it increases our own health and happiness.” –Zarathushtra
“A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” –Joseph Smith Jr.
“Compassion to others is compassion to one’s own self.” –Lord Mahavira
“When a person responds to the joys and sorrows of others as if they were his own, he has attained the highest state of spiritual union.” –Lord Krishna
These are only a few, and I apologize if I did not include one of your favorites, but all of these statements among the traditions of the world have one message in common: action. If you are a Christian, you are called to display agape, a complete and selfless love toward all. Muslims must show compassion and seek justice for the suffering. Buddhists and Hindus must see themselves totally in others, and so on.
A light does not speak of itself. We are attracted to light simply by its nature. What if you spent today be-ing these qualities, displaying them in every nuance of your life, instead of projecting them with criticism, diatribes, bumper stickers, or social pressure?
I dare say that you’d never have to say a word.
Here is a personal devotion I created to help me with this ideal. May it serve you as it has me.
“To that which Is
I offer praise in the depths
To that which Is
I offer prayer and sacrifice in the
Vigor of action.”