“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
– St. Francis of Assisi
My honey and I are in a couple’s bible study this summer, and we are talking a lot about what a Christian should look like in the world.* I’ve always heard the children’s song, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” But how do we show Christ’s love in the real world? How do we really preach the gospel without words?
We are called to be holy. A couple of years ago, I read the book Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. In the book, Kelly explains that we are all called to holiness, and that we are called to become “the-best-version-of-ourselves.” We must have a goal in mind (holiness) if we want to become better Christians.
Our study group has been talking about how Christians should look different, how we should behave differently from those who don’t know Jesus. This is a harder problem to solve than it sounds.
To reflect on how my own life should truly be Christian, I have to think about the hindrances in my life to following Christ. It’s different for everyone. For me, I tend to judge others when I should just accept them for who they are (Jesus did teach us to love your neighbor as yourself). I gossip from time to time, I tell lies of omission, and I watch TV shows that don’t reflect the values I want to uphold. These are difficult aspects to think about and admit, but avoiding them can bring me closer to Him and to the life I want to lead and follow Christ more closely.
Showing Our Faith through Good Works
In addition to avoiding bad behaviors, there are also good things I can do to show that I follow Him. I can be kind and patient with my husband and children. I can listen to and pray with those who are hurting. I can not only attend Mass, but also participate, pray, sing, and listen to the homily. I can receive the Eucharist and take it (Him) to those in the hospital and in nursing homes. I can pray the rosary.
I can donate food, money, and my time to help the less fortunate in our community. I can volunteer to help out with retreats like Great River Teens Encounter Christ. I’m just barely scratching the surface on the works I can do to show that I follow Christ.
What do you do to show that you are a Christian? Are you striving for holiness? How do you preach the gospel without words?
*Of course, the most important thing to being a Christian is having faith in God. We show our faith through our works. Not everyone who does good works has faith, but everyone who has faith in Christ should show that faith by their works. Read James 2:14-26 for more information.