I hear it all the time.
“I have a heart for the poor.”
That is beautiful. Can you name one?
“I think the Church should should get out of the building and love their neighbors.”
I agree. Do you know the names of neighbors living beside you?
“I wished the Church would stop brushing off mental illness and intellectual disabilities and create an environment where it is talked about and embraced.”
Absolutely. Are you in a personal relationship with someone (outside of your family) living with a mental illness or intellectual disability?
Preaching Only What You Practice
Everyone has an opinion. I have a few myself. It’s just now we live in a culture where anyone who can type can share them with anyone who can read (like I am doing right now–ironic, eh?). Don’t get me wrong, I am for sharing and airing opinions (obviously). But I am for sharing and airing opinions that stem from personal experience rather than theoretical conviction.
I am in the blessed position to work with men and women, those some would deem “conservative” and others “liberal,” who have determined to give a significant portion of their lives away to serve the last, least, lonely and left-out in our society. These people are putting boots to the ground to serve the poor, the mentally ill, the intellectually disabled, the homeless, and are reaching out to their neighbors living next door and across the street. They know their names. They know their stories. They have integrity when they “preach” and when they do, I listen.
Yet I find myself surrounded by other men and women, “conservative” and “liberal” who have determined to preach at or to the last, least, lonely and left-out. These are the people who do not know the names of the poor, the mentally ill, the intellectually disabled, the homeless, or even their next door neighbors. Instead they know the names of commentators of MSNBC, Fox News, and other media pundits. So when they speak, I shake my head at the profundity of ignorance that flows from their mouths and am saddened that they are unable to see their hypocrisy and short-sightedness.
Opinions As White Noise
I want to hear from people giving their lives away for their convictions, not just sitting in a tower or behind a laptop or in their car or on their couch letting everyone else know what we (by which they usually mean someone other than themselves) should do. I need to hear from people like Alison, Tammy, Bill, Carl, Danny, David, Tim, Erin, Lisa, Blake, John, Ray, Jason, David (not a typo, I know a lot of Davids), Jon (again, not a typo, I know a lot of Johns), Carolyn, Pete, Barbara, Anita, Amy, and I could go and on. These are the folks living in the trenches with their neighbors living in motels, back in the woods, in group homes, and one house down from their own. These are the ones who preach only what they practice and in turn, practice what they preach. At this stage in my life anything less is white noise. And I am learning that the best thing to do with white noise is to tune it out, or better yet shut it off.
If there is one thing bloggers, pundits, writers, pastors and conference speakers demonstrate is that anyone can theorize, politicize, dramatize or criticize, but true witnesses practice before they preach; true witnesses walk in relationship with those living in the trenches of loneliness or difficulty before they dare speak words of solutions or possibility.
Perhaps the time has come where we should stop reading bloggers and listening to pundits with endless opinions not rooted in personal practice. Instead, lets just obey God and trust Him with the consequences, and lets commit to preaching only what we practice.