The Two Dimensions of Our Faith: Prayer and Action.

Today’s passage comes from the end of the letter to the Hebrews. It is among the final exhortations given by the author of the letter. This particular admonition is directly related to our Christian calling to be imitators of Christ. Verse 15 tells us, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” This, along with today’s verse 16, gives us the two dimensions of our living faith as Christians: Prayer and Action.

As Christians we are to profess our faith in Jesus Christ with our lips. We do this in both our private and in our communal prayer. It is a mark of our faith to proclaim his name with our lips and our voices. But there is another dimension to our faith that is just as important, maybe even more important. That is, we are to walk the talk, just as Jesus did. It is one thing to proclaim the name of Jesus with our lips, but it is another to openly live our faith in our actions in the public square, as well as within the walls of our domestic churches, that is, our homes.

With our lips and our voices we can share our knowledge of God. But when we serve with our bodies, our actions, we bring Christ to others personally. When we serve others personally we make the love of Christ tangible, real, and present again, in that moment and in that space. When we touch the suffering other out of our love for Jesus Christ, it is he who touches them through our hands. When we personally and physically meet the needs of the hungry, the thirsty and the naked, we bring Christ to them in and through our actions, in and through our physical presence. When we tend to the sick, and visit the imprisoned, in his name, he is present to them through us in that moment.

Truth be told, our love for Christ will be more evident in our actions than in our words. When people see we Christians living in the manner that we preach, they will know that what we preach is both real and possible. Christ wants us to be his hands and feet in the world today. He wants to be tangible to others, not just intellectually knowable. God understands the power of presence. This is why he gave us himself in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is why we are so clearly admonished in this passage with the simple words, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” These “sacrifices” imitate the sacrifice of Jesus. To do good and to share with others in Jesus’ name is Christian action par excellence. Jesus came into the world to show us precisely what doing good looks like and he shared his whole perfectly divine, perfectly human self with us so that we would know how to do the same for one another.

Let us please God, then, with both our lips and our bodies. Let us enter into the sacrifices of Jesus by doing good and sharing with all others, not just our families, friends and fellow believers. And let us do so without expecting anything in return. Christ came for all unselfishly. Let us conduct ourselves in the same manner. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.