Back for my birthday in February, I got a new toy: a Fitbit. It’s a activity tracker that I wear on my body at all possible times. Kevin already had one for a couple of weeks. A true competitor at heart, I happily accepted the gift and the challenge of walking my way to a more active life and of course seeking to out step my husband!
Since the addition of the Fitbit to our lives, I’ve needed to rediscover the neighborhood where I live. You can only pace around the grocery store and your house for so long before you need a wide open space to quickly accumulate your steps. So off I’ve gone pacing around my Oklahoma neighborhood on a daily basis.
There’s so much to enjoy about the beauty of the neighborhood where we live (we will miss it so when we move), especially early in the morning and late at night. Oklahoma sunrises and sunsets are bar none! And around our family friendly subdivision so there’s always so much joy to take in from the kids running around barefoot in their yards or playing soccer and basketball with their friends in the community park.There’s grandmothers tending their flowers with such zest that make me want to garden again.
But as I’m doing my laps, there are moments when I quickly am shocked back to where I am: the buckle of the Bible belt. Being a Christian in this state it seems is something you drink in the water. You can’t go very far without someone saying “God bless you” or telling a story that begins, “Well, it’s just a God thing.”
And then yesterday on my walk, I noticed this in front of several of my neighbor’s homes.
A white wooden cross in not one yard but multiple yards throughout my neighborhood. With each passing one I saw, I started making up stories about how one of the local mega churches (and there are so many!) must have distributed them on a Palm Sunday and told congregants to place them in their yards as a way to “mark their homes as Easter celebrating Christians.”
The thing is about Oklahoma that I’ve learned during my three years here is that it doesn’t need a white cross campaign to identify some households as Christians and others as not because for goodness sake, we’re in Oklahoma! Being a democrat is a sin!
You may think I’ve gotten off my whacker here. “Aren’t you a pastor? Wouldn’t you also promote a white cross campaign?”
No I wouldn’t. It’s true, I am a pastor. But this is the thing: I am not a showy pastor.
In my experience, I’ve never made anyone “won over” the gospel by the fact that I wore a “Jesus Saves” t-shirt or put a fish symbol on the back of my car. No one has ever wanted to talk to me about my relationship with Jesus because I wore a cross necklace or made a dramatic entrance to a restaurant on a Sunday afternoon while wearing my Sunday best.
Faith, you see, for me is about how I treat you. It’s about how I quiet myself before God. It’s about how I give back in my time and finances. It’s how I love all my neighbors, especially those of a different faith from me or no faith at all. It’s not about outward acts of piety or my church attendance record.
I believe when folks see that you are the real deal– that you love God and love others— they want to know more.
So my friends, this Easter weekend before you consider making resurrection Easter eggs and taking them to the neighbors’ kids or posting comments on Facebook about your holiness activities, stop and ask yourself the simple question: “Why?”
Maybe if we all spent less time concentrating on what hung on our exterior, we’d have more time to ready our interior for the great JOY that is ours to have on Easter morning.